Union urges teacher recruitment to ensure safe teaching


The government should urgently look to recruit more teachers to ensure a safe learning environment for children, according to England’s largest education union.

In addition, ministers should seek out extra teaching spaces so that school staff can deliver education in a safe manner, the National Education Union has said.

The message comes at a point when the government is seeking to ensure a safe return to schooling for all pupils from September.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the impact of missing more school could have a serious impact on the life chances of pupils and has urged as many as possible to return to the classroom.

Echoing the views of chief medical officers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, he added: “The risk of contracting Covid-19 in school is very small and it is far more damaging for a child’s development and their health and wellbeing to be away from school any longer.”

Actions for schools

The union has warned that many clear Covid-secure measures are required for schools across England in order to make that possible.

They have suggested that student teachers who are looking for employment and supply staff should be mobilised to give schools an additional resource to deliver lessons while maintaining suitable levels of social distancing.

This would provide a welcome boost to those looking for teaching jobs and could alleviate some of the pressures being faced by schools ahead of the autumn term.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, explained that clear measures are needed in schools and that face masks could provide a level of confidence for teachers.

He said the working environment needs to be “as safe as practically possible” and that face coverings could help to alleviate anxiety among teaching staff.