The following advice and news complements that issued by UNISON previously on Saturday 2 January and is applicable to UNISON members working in the following settings (including private sector provision):
- primary school/academy;
- secondary school/academy;
- special school/academy; and,
- early years (nursery) provision.
1. Director of Education
UNISON West Sussex has written to the Director of Education Paul Wagstaff calling on him to work with the WSCC cabinet member in order to issue advice to schools not to re-open at the current time for full capacity teaching. This would allow WSCC to follow the lead taken by Brighton & Hove council.
There is a UNISON and NEU joint-petition on education in Tier 4 areas. UNISON members and their families are asked to sign. Please do so here.
3. West Sussex education members’ Zoom meeting
Please join us at a Zoom meeting for members to be held on Monday 4 January at 7.30pm. Members will receive the link/details for the meeting via email. We will provide the latest advice and support from UNISON and take questions from members.
4. Advice to members
The following terms apply in the advice: CEV – Clinically Extremely Vulnerable; CV – Clinically Vulnerable. Definitions for who fits into both categories are available here.
A. Primary school/academy; special school/academy; early years (nursery) provision
- ALL members should not be in the workplace whilst full capacity of education provision is intended to be offered. Please use the model letter UNISON has provided and send this to your Head teacher straightaway.
- CEV members should not be in the workplace in any circumstances, but should still use the model letter.
- CV members may be in the workplace if: there is reduced capacity of children in the workplace (e.g. Inset day; or only vulnerable children and children of key workers are in school); and control measures and a risk assessment are in place which are satisfactory and show the environment to be Covid-secure. Prior to any reduction in pupil capacity, CV members should use the model letter.
B. Secondary school/academy
- ALL members: there should be no pupils in secondary schools for at least this first week of the Spring term. UNISON is keeping the situation in secondary schools under review and will issue more advice to its members in secondary schools later in the week.
- CEV members should not be in the workplace in any circumstances.
- CV members may be in the workplace if: there are no children in the workplace (e.g. Inset day/s); and control measures and a risk assessment are in place which are satisfactory and show the environment to be Covid-secure.
5. Model letter
The model letter has been approved for use by UNISON members by UNISON’s lawyers. UNISON members who are support staff should not use model letters distributed by other unions who represent teachers.
UNISON’s lawyers are sure that this approach to facilitate use of Section 44 Health & Safety legislation to allow withdrawal from unsafe attendance at the workplace (but not your labour per se, as you are willing to work from home) is legally watertight and provides you with full legal protection when doing so.
The school leaders’ unions NAHT and ASCL have issued advice to their members (Heads, etc) that they should not take action against any other union members using these model letters, which gives you additional assurances.
6. Next steps
Please use the model letter as set out above.
Please look out for further communications from the branch and national office.
Please encourage non-members to join UNISON, the only recognised union for support staff in West Sussex.
If you do not have a UNISON rep in your school, please volunteer now.
If you need individual advice, please speak to your local rep or the branch office. Please bear in mind we are holding a Zoom meeting on Monday evening to answer member queries and you may find it useful to attend this first.