NSEAD will continue to bring regular updates about Covid-19 and what it means to you as the situation develops - helping you to keep up to date with the rapidly changing advice.
Update Thursday 28th May @8pm
NSEAD has been working with the DFE’s formal stakeholder forum throughout this week, as final decisions were made about the relaxing of school closures. We provided a detailed response to the SAGE evidence that has informed the decisions and guidance coming from the DFE.
Significantly, we have engaged in constructive conversations with the Secretary of State for Education today, as one of the 9 trade unions with members working in school settings. A joint statement – signed by the NEU, NASUWT, NAHT, GMB, UNISON, Unite, AEP, Prospect, NSEAD and TUC – has been issued.
The DFE said today:
‘We know that the next few weeks are vital, and we want to continue to work with you all to make sure that schools have the support they need to start to safely open to more pupils from Monday.’
Members will have heard the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening, in which he set out his assessment that each of the five tests are being met and confirming that from Monday (June 1) schools can begin to open more widely to children in reception, year 1 and year 6 along with nurseries and other early years settings. And from 15 June, secondary schools can also begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for years 10 and 12.
In the daily briefing from Downing Street on the 24th May, the Prime Minister repeated the intention that schools should expand their provision to include all early years, year 1 and year 6 pupils from 1st June.
He also presented a target date of the 15th of June for the provision of some face to face support for up to a quarter of all year 10 and 12 pupils, repeating the guidance issued last week that it is not expected that these pupils will return on a full time basis.
Whilst this delay will help secondary schools to prepare, NSEAD is not convinced that June 1st is a realistic date for primary schools to expand their provision. Pupils and staff must return only when they can do so safely.
Given that a large number of local authorities are not advising their schools to open more widely, and that the tests set by the Government have not yet been met, it is unclear how many primary schools will expand their provision on the 1st of June. It is not clear whether the 15th June has been presented as the earliest date that secondary schools should expand provision and whether decisions will be made at local level.
Following the shameful attack on the integrity of our teachers in some sections of the press, and from some Government sources last weekend, we welcome Johnson’s recognition that teachers throughout the UK have ‘stepped up the challenge and kept schools open throughout this crisis’.
The Government promises that the final decision on how and when to expand provision will be taken on Thursday, after they have engaged with teaching unions, Councils and school leaders. NSEAD looks forward to joining our fellow trade unions representing workers in education settings for a meeting with Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson later this week.
Update Friday 22nd May @8pm
Ofqual have launched a consultation on an additional GCSE, AS and A level exam series in autumn 2020 autumn series consultation today and the closing date will be
8 June 2020 at 11.45pm. NSEAD will make a response on behalf of members, and would encourage all those with an interest in these assessment arrangements to do so too. There are particular issues surrounding non examined assessment that are unique to our subject. It is currently proposed that the NEA should only be available for Art and Design qualifications, but in a new format to reflect the difficulties that will surround the autumn series.
Arrangements for the summer series have been confirmed following consultation. Details have been published today:
This morning the proposed date of June 1st for schools to begin partial reopening looks in doubt. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already rejected this timetable, now joined by 11 local authorities and a growing number of schools.
The Government now says that they are in 'listening mode'. June 1st is now an aspirational date, and they wish to listen to employers and staff. Government now say that they will not force schools to open. NSEAD welcomes this stepping back from a fixed date for return. However, this new the onus is on the employer to make decisions based on local circumstances means that it is more important that the concerns of staff are heard and taken into account, in every school.
NSEAD will continue to support our members assert their right to be safe, confident and consulted as plans are made to open their schools to more pupils.
Our letter to headteachers sets out our support for our members and I would urge all NSEAD Trade Union members to download it and send it to your headteacher.
NSEAD is fully committed to getting pupils back to their art rooms – but for the sake of our children, our members and our communities this can only happen when it is safe to do so. See the principles and tests for safe return, agreed by the alliance of unions by following the link below.
Update Thursday 14th May @8pm
NSEAD members want to return to their art classrooms as soon as possible. Pupils need the art, craft and design equipment and materials and teaching that they can only get in a classroom environment. But this can only happen when we are fully confident that allowing our children to return to school is safe.
NSEAD has joined an alliance of Education Trade Unions, calling for the safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle. We call on the government to step back from the 1st June as the date for relaxing school closures, and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out. The best way to do this is through a national taskforce for safe schools, with government, unions and education stakeholders.
NSEAD is fully committed to getting pupils back to their art rooms – but for the sake of our children, our members and our communities this can only happen when it is safe to do so.
See our promise to our professional community here
Today, the TUC affiliated Education unions have issued this joint message on the safe reopening of schools:
Today’s statement follows a longer statement to the Secretary of State on Friday (8 May), which set out in full detail the principles and tests necessary for the safe reopening of schools. It is signed by AEP, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, NSEAD, Prospect, UNISON and Unite.
Full text of today’s statement:
“We all want schools to re-open, but that should only happen when it is safe to do so. The government is showing a lack of understanding about the dangers of the spread of coronavirus within schools, and outwards from schools to parents, sibling and relatives, and to the wider community.
“Uniquely, it appears, school staff will not be protected by social distancing rules. 15 children in a class, combined with their very young age, means that classrooms of 4 and 5-year olds could become sources of Covid-19 transmission and spread. While we know that children generally have mild symptoms, we do not know enough about whether they can transmit the disease to adults. We do not think that the government should be posing this level of risk to our society.
“We call on the government to step back from the 1st June and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out.”
The principles and tests include (see full statement from Friday 8 May, ):
Safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle
No increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a national test and trace scheme
A national Covid-19 education taskforce with government, unions and education stakeholders to agree statutory guidance for safe reopening of schools
Consideration of the specific needs of vulnerable students and families facing economic disadvantage
Additional resources for enhanced school cleaning, PPE and risk assessments
Local autonomy to close schools where testing indicates clusters of new covid-19 cases
Update Monday 11th May @6pm
Since Boris Johnson indicated Government plans to relax Covid-19 restrictions during Prime Minister’s Question time on Wednesday 6th May members have been contacting NSEAD with concerns about what this will mean for schools. Further announcements and media leaks have contributed to the unease and anxiety of those working in education. NSEAD continues to focus our energies on responding to individual members with support and advice, working with the education sector trade unions to challenge the Government.
The ongoing failure by the Governement to provide clarity and transparency continues to cause anxiety and fear amongst our members. We believe that this could and would be avoided if there was a greater commitment to intelligent, honest communications with the education sector.
The devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been clear that they will not be relaxing arrangments for the closure of shcools on June 1st.
The Details on phased wider opening of schools, colleges and nurseries issued by Gavin Williamson earlier today raise many questions, and do not meet the measures needed for the safe reopening of schools, that NSEAD has supported. These are outlined in a letter sent on behalf of unions with members in the education sector joint statement from the school workforce unions, by the TUC.
NSEAD shares this position, and assures our members that we stand in solidarity with the school workforce unions, ensuring that your interests are fully represented.
Update Friday 24th April @6pm
This week NSEAD wrote to Minister for Education Gavin Williamson on behalf of our members to ask for reassurance that the safety of school staff, their pupils and the wider community will be an absolute priority as and when the Government decide to relax the current arrangements for closure.
Many of our members are school-teachers, working to ensure that children and their families are supported during the Covid-19 emergency. My members were concerned about the potential dangers of exposure to the virus and cross contagion long before schools were ordered to close. They have continued to work in schools supporting the families of key workers, despite fears that by doing so they may endanger their lives, and those of their families.
These are frightening times for all of us, and children and young people are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. Teachers are on the front line, doing everything that they can to protect them, to reduce their anxiety and to give them hope where there is only uncertainty. NSEAD joins fellow TUC affiliated unions the NASUWT and the NEU in calling for full recognition and mitigation of the risks to life and well being of teachers, staff and pupils in schools throughout the UK.
Ofqual consultation on the assessment and grading of vocational, technical and other general qualifications
Ofqual have today published a detailed consultation on the proposed changes to our rules and revised approaches necessary to deliver the fairest results for students in the current exceptional circumstances. The consultation is available on their website here and will be open until 11:45pm on 8th May 2020.
Update Sunday 19th April @12pm
The DFE has updated information and support for remote learning, with particular emphasis on support for vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils. Laptops and 4G routers are promised to ensure that remote education is accessible these students. There is additional guidance and help for teachers and parents to use technology, and also more detailed safeguarding support.
NSEAD is disappointed to note that the list of resources published by the DFE is still limited to core subjects and physical education. A new enterprise 'Oak National Academy' will be launched on the 20th April, providing 180 video lessons each week. It is promised that 'art' is included, though it is not clear which subject specialists will be providing that content.
The DFE have published further guidance regarding financial support for Education. The postion of teachers on supply contracts is further explained. This clarification will be welcome to our many members who are affected by the closure of schools and uncertainty about their income.
Where schools are the direct employer the following applies:
'we expect schools to ensure any employees funded by public money continue to be paid in the usual fashion from their existing staff budgets, and correspondingly not furloughed, in line with the HM Revenue and Customs guidance for public sector organisations.
Where schools have live assignments with contingent workers, and where the school is the workers’ employer, schools should continue to pay these workers from their existing school budgets and not furlough them.
Where schools have terminated contracts with contingent workers due to coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier than the original terms set out, and where the school was the workers’ employer under that contract, schools should reinstate these contracts on the terms previously agreed, as long as the contractor is not already accessing alternative support through another government support scheme.'
Where a teacher is contracted by an agency:
'Where agency workers are not on live assignments with schools, or where a previously agreed assignment is due to end, schools and agencies should discuss any further demand for the worker. If there is no further demand, the employer can apply to furlough the worker via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.'
Ofqual have announced an extraordinary consultation regarding arrangments for examinations. The deadline for responses is 23:45 on Wednesday 29th March. NSEAD will be responding on behalf of our members, presenting the specific considerations of Art and design and encourage all teachers to respond, Find the survey here:
OCR have helpfully summarised Ofqual’s consultation proposals below.
On awarding grades, it proposes that students entered for exams in year 10 or below this summer should receive a calculated grade, along with those in year 11 and above. It also proposes that private candidates should receive grades where there can be confidence in the grades being awarded. For example, it says they can be issued where a Head of Centre can confidently submit a centre assessment grade and include them in their centre’s rank order, or where a candidate has studied with an established provider, such as a distance learning provider that is also an approved exam centre. At OCR, we are continuing to explore if it might be possible for us to award grades to other private candidates this summer where there is no existing relationship like these. We’ll provide further advice as soon as we can.
On the process of standardising centre assessment grades, it proposes how statistical evidence should be used to identify and adjust grades submitted by schools and colleges.
On the grounds for appealing final grades, it proposes specific and limited circumstances where schools, colleges and students should have this opportunity.
Ofqual are continuning to work with examination boards on guidance forvocational Qualifications. VQ subject adviser Raj Sood discusses support coming from OCR here:
They have also update the guidance here for teachers, parents and students on the awarding of GCSE, AS and A levels this year. There is further information on:
Bias vs protected groups
Y10/Y12 disruption to study (for those taking exams next year)
Students who’ve improved since mocks
Teachers, parents and students may also find the Ofqual blog useful
here , which describes the arrangements and includes two short videos – one for teachers and one for students.
Update 3rd April 8pm
Full guidance has now been issued for how qualifications will be awarded in summer 2020 in England, Wales and Scotland. Centres will be asked to make assessments based on a holistic review of candidates’ performance to date, and a professional judgement made of their likely performance had they completed their courses and examinations.
Whilst details for administration differ in each of the nations, (we await confirmation of arrangements in Northern Ireland) the principle of teachers making a ‘best assessment’ using their professional judgement applies for all students wherever they are in the UK . This is as it should be.
NSEAD has made strong representations on behalf of our members to all of the regulatory authorities since school closures were announced. Our priority has been to speak for our members, to ensure that decisions would be informed by the needs of students and their teachers.Our recommendations have been acknowledged, and are reflected in the arrangements for centre assessment.
No system put in place in times of emergency will be perfect, or completely fair to all students, but we are pleased that the regulatory authorities have put the responsibility in the hands of teachers to do everything that we can to ensure that students are fairly rewarded.
There is a great deal of work ahead of us, but we know that our members will rise to that challenge, for the sake of all of our students.
IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING SHARING OF WORK PREPARED FOR ASSESSMENT
As the Easter break begins for many, schools await the detail of how grade calculations and teacher estimations are to be managed. We await detailed guidance from Ofqual and the SQA.
NSEAD has continued to press for subject specific guidance, which is now urgently required. We have written again to Ofqual this morning, following news reports of teachers setting up online exhibitions of work that students had prepared for submission as part of ESA units.This is something that NSEAD have been cautioning our members against doing, as it is unclear whether that work will now form part of their students’ grade calculations.
We are concerned that Art and Design teachers may be unwittingly compromising their students by posting work that may be required for inclusion in grade esitmation data required by exam boards. NSEAD has called for assessment of ESA units to be excluded from the grade calculations for Art and Design qualifications, due to the inevitable disadvantage to students unable to submit work directly before or after school closures.
We have advised Ofqual that in the absence of guidance, many teachers are naturally wishing to recognise the extraordinary work of their students and we have been fielding many questions from our members about whether they should do this. NSEAD has always been very clear in our instruction to members and those using our social media platforms – do not share work that is part of formal assessment or you will be in breach of regulations.
This morning, we have asked Ofqual directly:
Are you in a position to confirm now that this work will NOT form part of grade calculations?
We urge members to refrain from sharing work that has been prepared as part of formal assessment until there is a clear position on arrangements for grade calculations from the regulatory authorities and exam boards.
Update 26th March at 6pm
Initial Teacher Education
As a result of school closures, Trainee teachers are unlikely to have completed the necessary number of school based hours to qualify for QTS. Whilst different the UK Government has issued a statement to initial teacher education partnerhsips advising that the result, the DfE will enable providers to make judgements on trainees “based on assessments already completed and each trainee’s current trajectory of progress towards meeting the teachers’ standards”.
Key points in the statement are:
ITE requirements in respect of time spent in school and number and location of placements are suspended.
ITE programmes can continue through on-line learning , the setting of assignments to be completed at home and in other ways that providers think appropriate.
Where at the end of the programme students are judged by the provider to be on a trajectory towards meeting the teacher standards they can, on normal timescales, be recommended for the award of QTS.
Arrangments for students who could clearly not be judged to be on a trajectory towards QTS at the end of their programmes will be announced in due course, along with details of any financial provision.
Additional support for next year’s NQTs who are awarded QTS will also be announced in due course.
ITE providers can continue to recruit students for 2020/21, using Skype or other on- line mechanisms for the conducting of interviews, and the checking of documents.
Normal timescales for Rejection by Default and Declined by Default have been suspended
Detailed Q&A from DfE will follow, as will updated ITE criteria
NSEAD will be working to support our student and NQT members with a programme of activity and resources will be developed over the coming weeks and months
Impact on self employed and freelance earnings
Many of our members providing contracted services to educational settings have been hit particularly hard by the closure of schools and other settings. The Chancellor has announced measures to support those who depend on self employed and freelance income.
Self employed workers will be able to apply for a taxable grant of up to £2500 a month, however it will not begin to arrive until June at the earliest. The grant will be for 80% of average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2500. Where freelance and self employed earnings do not go back that far, mechanisms to calculate average earnings are still being investigated, they are not covered under this scheme.
There are remaining concerns for these workers and how they will manage until grants become available, with eligibility for universal credit not applicable to all. Specifically, those who have a part-time PAYE contract are not eligible for lost income from their self-employed work. Also those who have savings over £16,000 that may be set aside to cover tax bills and business liabilities cannot apply.
The Cultural Learning Alliance have been speaking on this issue and say:
“Freelancers are absolutely essential to the cultural sector’s ability to offer cultural learning opportunities to all children and young people. Most of our major institutions use these individuals for the majority of their delivery, and the skills, expertise and relationships with young people are often based within this workforce.
Contracts with schools and with arts organisations have been cancelled for the immediate future and well into the autumn. Most have no work now on their books.
Some arts organisations are honouring current contracts and paying for work due to be done in March. Schools much less so.”
Although some schools are still open, it is not really possible for freelancers to continue working with them.
Postponement of work is, in effect, lost income as it leaves an immediate cashflow problem, and will take the place of future paidwork”
NSEAD applauds the work of school teachers and managers to mobilise online learning resources and programmes to provide a planned curriculum timetable for those learning at home. We are concerned however that there are pupils who will not be able to access remote learning provision from their homes.
We urge school leaders to consider the extent that those learners will be supported and not left behind because of inequalities of access. NSEAD are working to share resources that can be shared with learners who do not have access to online learning and have minimal equipment, materials and space at home.
Update Wednesday 25th March
Impact on examinations
NSEAD wrote to both Ofqual and SQA last week, asking for clarfication and confirmation at the earliest possible stage of arrangments for assessment, moderation and awarding of grades for students taking qualifications in Art and Design. We await further communication with detail about their decsions. We have made it clear that Art and Design has particular needs unique to the subject and that any decisions should be made with input from those with appropriate specialist knowledge.
The SQA have moved from their position last week that coursework be submitted for external assessment, observing deadlines as originally set. Yesterday, they announced that they have reversed this decision that for this year, schools and colleges are not required to submit learner coursework for marking, in Higher and Advanced Higher courses. Where learners may have already completed their coursework for Higher and Advanced Higher courses. This work can still be used as part of the suite of evidence for teachers and lecturers to draw on as they consider estimated grades. SQA have said that they will provide further details on the estimation of grades, needed from teachers and lecturers to inform certification, and fuller details of our approach to certification, as soon as possible.
Ofqual have made no further announcement since Monday 20th March.
We have written again today to express our concern that the continued lack of information is causing high levels of stress and anxiety amongst teachers of Art and Design. We have reports of teachers being asked by their management teams to collect work from students, others to run exam and coursework sessions in school putting themselves and their students at risk. This is not acceptable, and we look forward to receiving clear guidance for teachers as soon as possible.
Vulnerable groups and SEND children
The DFE has made a number of announcements about arrangements to support vulnerable children. This letter from Vicky Ford MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families sets out the guidance and measures that are being taken to support the needs of SEND children and young people and their families and carers, and safeguarding these vulnerable groups. Click
We are concerned at the growing stress and anxiety that we are seeing amongst our members and the wider education community as they rise to the challenge of maintaining education in a transformed landscape. Teachers are being asked to adapt to a whole new model of remote learning, responding and learning at a rapid pace. They are creating and sourcing resources, setting up remote work spaces and routines where very little is already in place. Some schools are setting unrealistic expectations and making unreasonable demands of their staff to deliver an equivalent level and standard of provision, remotely.
NSEAD repeats our advice that it is the responsiblity of employers to ensure that staff have the necessary resources and support to be able to work remotely. They are responsible for the health, safety and safeguarding or those employees who are now working from home. We implore all schools to prioritise the health and well being of their staff as they rise to the challenge of continuing to educate their students in these expceptional circumstances.
Update 23rd March 9am
As schools open this morning, operating a skeleton service for key workers, staff who are deployed to work onsite are understandably concerned about their ongoing risk of exposure to the Coronavirus. Over the weekend, headteachers warned that the level of requests they have received to admit pupils may not be tenable.
NSEAD urges schools to do all that they can to ensure the safety and well being of those staff who are manning Key worker support rotas, and those pupils still attending school.
We are particularly concerned about reports from our members working in the independent sector of more than 50% of their pupils expected to be in school this morning. Independent schools are caught between advice to close that is not currently being enforced by Government, and the contradictory demands of parents requiring childcare to enable them to continue to work We call for Government to provide much more robust directives to parents and carers. Those children who can be at home should be at home – whether in public or privately funded settings.
Our advice to members who find that they are delivering skeleton services to unacceptably high numbers of children, is to ask your school management and governors to confirm the arrangements to safeguard the health of all those required to be onsite. Specifically, how will they:
enforce social distancing actions within the school, including 2m distance between individuals provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff working onsite providing surgical quality face masks for pupils maintain the most stringent standards of hygiene - extent and frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, availability of hand sanitizer, etc
NSEAD recognises that headteachers and Governing bodies are under immense strain at this time, and that their intentions will surely be to protect their staff and students. Ultimately it is up to the Government to support them.
Impact on examinations and assessment
We await further information from Ofqual, the SQA and the examining bodies about arrangements for summer series assessments and awarding of grades. We fully expect additional detail to cover the full range of courses that are affected, including BTECs and other vocational courses.
In Higher Education, institutions are responding individually, with different arrangements to allow students to progress to the next year of their courses and for final year students to be awarded with qualifications. Whilst we appreciate that these decisions must be made at local level, we are concerned the very specific needs of practice- based courses are leading to delays in measures to ensure that staff and students are able to follow social distance guidelines. Whilst studios and workshops remain open, and assessment arrangements still require full submissions, inevitably anxious students are continuing to work onsite, putting themselves and others at risk of contagion. NSEAD calls on all HE providers to ensure that students and staff are not being put at unnecessary risk.
Update 20th March
Update 20th March 8pm
Impact on Examinations
The government announced today further details on exams and grades. The stated intention is to ensure GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in.
There are two options:
For those who need an exam grade this summer, the exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.
There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to. NSEAD have written to Ofqual asking for more information about the arrangements for Art and Design candidates who wish to follow this option. It is not clear whether this will mean all externally moderated components, and we have asked for details of how submission, assessment and moderation will be managed. We will provide more detailed information when we have it.
SQA have not provided any further update. We have written expressing our concern that teachers have been asked to continue to work with young people to ensure that any units and coursework are completed and estimated grades are provided, to SQA’s existing deadlines, or earlier if that is possible.
Sick pay and support for business
The Chancellor announced today measures to further support employers to continue to pay employees during periods of closure. These measures - a new coronavirus job retention scheme are specifically aimed at employers (including charitable and non profit) with grants to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll rather than being laid off .
Teachers working on a supply basis who are on contract with an agency or school may be eligible, depending on the terms of the terms of their contracts.
Teachers employed in schools subject to closure under the Government directive will continue to be paid as normal and should not see a reduction in pay as a result of school closure. They may be deployed according to local plans, or directed to work at home.
The job retention scheme and payments do not apply to self employed or freelance workers. In measures announced today, they will be allowed to defer self-assessment payments until January 2021 and can claim universal credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay. However, as SSP is set at £94.25 per week, many will find that their income is significantly reduced.
NSEAD will continue to call for fair treatment of all of our members as they work together to suppport learners at this time of national emergency.
Update 20th March 2020 8am
This morning the Government has published detailed guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision. A list of key workers has been defined, which includes nursery and teaching staff and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID 19 response.
This means that all members who work in an educational setting should remain available for work, and be prepared to be deployed at local level, according to local plans. If you have school age children, they will be prioritised for school education along with those of other key workers and vulnerable children.
NSEAD advises members to check local plans (at local authority, Trust or school level) and be ready to be deployed to support the delivery of education services either at home, or onsite. We repeat our previous statement that we do not believe it approprate for staff who don’t have the necessary training or personal protective equipment to be required to undertake deep clean duties.
Update 18th March 2020 at 18.30
The prime minster, Boris Johnson, has today announced that it will be mandatory for schools to close from Friday 20 March in the afternoon. All schools and colleges are also expected to remain open in order to look after children and young people of key workers and vulnerable children. This is across all phases from early years to further education colleges.
Examples of key worker include NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work to support the country’s fight to tackle coronavirus.
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education also announced that schools will need to make provision for the children and young people of key workers and vulnerable children in the Easter vacation.
To make this possible local authorities, academy chains, schools and colleges will be expected to give guidance and to make arrangements with teachers and other staff teams.
Examinations will not take place in May or June this year. The prime minister has also said that progress will not be impeded as a result of their cancellation. No indication was given as to when or if they will still take place.
NSEAD has written to Ofqual (17 March) and will be writing to SQA, in order to seek clarification and assurances that our subject-specific examination needs are given due consideration. We will be following up any responses to ensure are teachers and students remain fully informed with informed.
We will be seeking further advice from the DfE, Ofqual and SQA to confirm the consequences and implications of these announcements on our members and their students. As soon as we have more details we will share this with you.
Update 17th March at 19:30
Disability and increased vulnerability
Pregnant women have been included in the vulnerable category. The DfE are looking to issue guidance covering HR issues in respect of high-risk members of staff. We expect this guidance to be issued very shortly.
NSEAD reminds employers that under HSE requirements for pregnant workers they are entitled to a risk assessment and steps to mitigate any identified risk. In the case of potential Coronavirus infection NSEAD call for pregnant workers to be allowed to work from home, with immediate effect. This should not trigger the start of maternity leave, or be treated as sick leave, but reasonable adjustment.
If staff have to be isolated/quarantined, then they should not be expected to take annual leave or be recorded as sick leave to cover this period – it should be special leave. If staff are self-isolating, then for those that have the appropriate technology available and their jobs enable working from home, managers can reasonably expect them to work from home (assuming they are well enough) rather than be on leave. However, for those who do not have that flexibility, managers should be able to approve the absence as special leave. However, if they are unwell and not able to work then this is likely to be recorded as sickness absence.
Detriment to members
We repeat our call for employers to ensure that staff who need to self-isolate do not suffer detriment in pay, or triggers on absence policy procedures. This should apply whether as a result of infection, or household quarantine, or in extended isolation due to serious underlying health or pregnancy, or age category. This is the position being taken by many local authorities, though definitive Government guidance has not yet been issued.
Impact on examinations
NSEAD has today written to Ofqual asking for urgent clarification of the arrangements for Art and Design courses on the following points: assessment, moderation arrangements and teacher assessment
As the professional body for art, craft and design education we strongly advise that subject-specific guidance is given to schools, colleges and centres as soon as possible. At this time of national emergency, our members are extremely concerned that they cannot give the reassurances needed to their students. We ask that you take into account the unique assessment and moderation needs of art and design qualifications, and can provide the reassurances that we seek without delay. Read the full letter here.
We recognise that there remains a contradiction between government guidance to avoid gatherings of people, and the requirement of children, young people and staff in educational settings to continue to attend. This is understandably causing anxiety. The Government has said that school closures may be necessary, and they will make a decision at the appropriate time. Until then, there is no national closure of schools. Headteachers warn that increasing staff absence due to necessary self-isolation may make it difficult to keep their schools open. We advise our members to share any concerns that they have due to increased class sizes, changes to accommodation or any other factor that compromises health and safety with their school management. Follow all guidance issued by Government and health authorities. NSEAD continues to press for clear information to support schools planning and measures to safeguard staff.
Following the briefing today by the UK Government and advice from the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, members should be aware that new measures to curb the coronavirus are being put in place. The key new measures that may affect our members in the workplace are:
Everyone should make every effort to avoid gatherings and crowded places.
Everyone should work from home if possible
If anyone person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days.
By next weekend those with the most serious health conditions must be “largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks”
Schools should stay open, although closures may become necessary at some point during the outbreak.
What does this mean for our members?
Schools and colleges are crowded places. The need to keep them open in order to support key workers must be balanced with the health and well being of employees. NSEAD asks schools to ensure that unreasonable demands are not made on teachers in order to cover for colleagues who are now absent. This includes increasing class sizes beyond the agreed maxima for that key stage. It is our opinion that parent’s evenings with in person interviews, should not take place for the duration of the outbreak, and whilst schools are still open.
If you are asked to work from home, in the event of prolonged self-isolation, or school closure, your employer should have a risk assessment in place for home working. This should cover health and safety and safeguarding issues such as the use of online platforms to support pupil learning. NSEAD reminds employers that there should not be an automatic assumption that staff have the resources or skills to support online learning. Anything over and above normal duties, e.g. preparing home packs, is voluntary in nature and teachers cannot be instructed to prepare these without agreement and without time being identified to do so.
If you have symptoms of Covid 19, you should self-isolate for 14 days. If someone in your household has symptoms, you should self-isolate for 14 days. NSEAD expects employers to recognise that self-isolation for Covid 19 in case of infection, or precaution should not trigger any aspect of absence policy procedures, nor be part of any employee’ sickness record. Employees should not suffer any detriment in terms of pay or any other conditions of employment as a result of following measures to curb Coronovirus.
If you have a serious underlying health condition, a chronic disease or are a pregnant woman, you will be expected to self-isolate for your own protection and to reduce pressure on the NHS. You should expect this to last for around 12 weeks and will not be able to go to work until public health advice is issued. This will come into effect this weekend. NSEAD calls upon all employers to support vulnerable employees to self-isolate with immediate effect and without detriment.
A number of schools in England, Wales and Scotland have announced short term closures. Special schools in Nothern Ireland will close from Monday. Long term closure of all UK schools remains a possibility but has not been announced. Meantime, it is the expectation of NSEAD that where pupils, students, or staff have been identified as carrying the Covid 19 virus, the school, or college or University, should be closed and a deep clean enacted. In our view the closure should not be simply to accommodate the deep clean but should factor in the necessary period for self-isolation to happen e.g. a minimum of seven days.
Our members are concerned about the impact of staff and pupil absence and potential school closure on the summer examinations. Ofqual have issued guidance for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The SQA last updated on the 12th March. NSEAD advises members to discuss with your exam secretary the contingency plan that your centre has in place, and review in the context of potential long term closures of centres during the summer exam series. Specifically, consider how, if the contingency plan is invoked, you will comply with the awarding organisation’s requirements.
NSEAD will continue to respond to member concerns and give updates. I know that members will understand that if it is impossible to resolve a query it is because of the uncertainty of the situation, not through any lack of effort on the part of staff.
As Government responses to the coronavirus pandemic develops, NSEAD will update members with the relevant advice and guidance. At this point, school closures have not been announced, but a growing number of HE institutions have suspended teaching or moved lectures and tutorials online. Many schools are preparing for potential closure and asking staff to make plans to support home learning.
The UK Government has issued advice for educational settings about Covid 19.
The official guidance in these links does not address the position regarding duty of care for employees who have underlying health conditions, or fall into the vulnerable age bracket and so are particularly vulnerable if they contract Covid 19. NSEAD calls upon employers to honour their duty of care, and not expect employees with underlying health conditions to be on site whilst there is a danger of exposure to the coronavirus. We advise members to take advice from their GP and to make any decision to self-isolate accordingly. If you are advised to remain off work, you should get this in writing if possible.
Under equalities legislation, if you have a disability that makes you more susceptible to infection, your employer has a duty to carry out a risk assessment and any reasonable adjustments should be applied, including a temporary change of work location or duties.
Detriment to members
Where staff are absent from work due to self-isolation, NSEAD shares the position of the other teaching unions, and the TUC. Appropriate arrangements should be made to ensure that the absence does not lead to any detriment to members’ pay, by ensuring that relevant procedures are used to ensure that staff receive full pay during their absence through relevant and appropriate policies such as authorised leave sick leave provisions or medical suspension. During self-isolation the staff member may not develop coronavirus and therefore authorised leave would be more appropriate than sick leave or medical suspension.
Employers should not currently be requiring Fit notes, as they are unlikely to be obtainable. The Government is developing an alternative form of evidence to the fit note. These will shortly be available through NHS online.
Until then, we advise our members to ensure that they provide details of the reasons for the self-isolation and the advice they have taken.
NSEAD expect that any absence due to self-isolation will be disregarded and not form part of any absence management procedures.
We recognise that the current situation and an extended response may be increasing individuals’ anxiety levels, impacting on mental health, or exacerbating existing mental health conditions. If this leads to a period of absence it should be considered as normal sick leave.
If you are teaching on supply, agency workers who have three months continuous service may be entitled to statutory sick pay (subject to earning a minimum of £118 per week).
As part of emergency measures to control infection, and encourage workers to self-isolate, the Government has removed the 4-day qualifying period so this can be claimed from the first day of absence due to self-isolation. Further information here:
At the moment there are some short-term closures of schools, mostly for deep cleaning where a case has been recorded. These closures should be under the same terms as other enforced temporary closures (for example, in case of a health and safety risk or inclement weather). No employee should lose pay or be required to make up time missed due to closure.
Setting work for remote learning support
It is not unreasonable for teachers, if they are asked, to provide where there are facilities to do so work for pupils to do during the closure or provide remote/or online learning support. However, schools should not be imposing increased workload burdens on teachers for them to produce this work. Teachers of practical subjects may find it particularly difficult to set work as it may well require the production of a whole new set of resources for independent study, with limited materials and equipment in a home setting. Preparing these materials is workload intensive, particularly for practical subjects where there are fewer resources readily available in textbooks and online. We advise members to highlight this in planning discussions with their school management. Where preparations are being made for this time should be given during the working day for teachers to produce these resources.
Where schools are instructed to close long term, they must have contingency plans to support remote learning. Whilst technology such as video conferencing may be part of proposals, not all pupils or teachers will have the facilities to at home to work in this way. There is no requirement for members to be set up or have the expertise to offer remote tuition.
Where teachers can work in this way, we would ask members to be aware of the potential for online sessions to be recorded and edited, which could lead to inappropriate postings on social media. One to one tutorial via video conference should be avoided. We advise members to highlight this concern in planning meetings and seek reassurance that safeguards have been built in by your school management.
Our members are concerned about the impact on practical learning if schools are closed for a prolonged period. It is not possible to maintain the same level of teaching and learning for all pupils when they are working remotely without access to the materials, equipment and supervision provided in art rooms. There should be no monitoring of teachers’ performance during this time, and teachers should not be held accountable for the inevitable impact on pupil progress.
Impact on examinations
If the outbreak causes disruption through the examination season, awarding bodies are expected to issue appropriate guidance to schools.
Ofqual has produced guidance for schools and colleges on how to deal with significant disruption to examinations.
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has a well-established examination disruption contingency plan. Although this information does not address issues related to COVID-19 directly, it is likely that it will form the basis of specific advice for examination centres if the outbreak impacts on their ability to manage candidates’ access to assessments or prevents candidates from travelling to centres.
On 2nd March, Ofqual wrote to heads of examination centres (pdf) advising that preparations for the summer examination series should continue as normal and that Ofqual will issue further advice and guidance if necessary.
NSEAD is in contact with the examining bodies to ascertain the measures they will take in specific regard to practical coursework and arrangements for moderation. We will update members when we have more information.
This is an anxious time for everyone. NSEAD calls upon schools to prioritise the safety and well being of pupils and staff. The art education community is rallying to provide support, advice and resources for teachers and their pupils. NSEAD would like to assure you of our continued support.