Islington District - National Education Union

Covid - 19 Latest Advice 

The situation with Covid-19 is changing rapidly and the NEU is working hard to keep on top of things and make sure that Reps and members have all the information you need. Locally we are talking with the LA planning team for schools and children's services.

As a union we have consistently made clear that our members are willing to support our communities in as many ways as possible during these difficult times but as a union we also have a duty to protect their health and that of their families.

The government advice is that people should only be sending their children to school if they have to, because their work is critical to the Covid-19 response. Anyone who can keep their child at home should do so. It is not compulsory for key workers' children or those with EHC plans to attend school. Schools have the responsibility for deciding and offering places to pupils who may be eligible to attend, it is not a statutory right. It is not an option for children to dip in and out of. It is an emergency childcare provision, and if students can remain at home safely because there is adequate care or they are old and responsible enough, this is what must happen. The Government and NHS workers are asking people to stay at home if at all possible. This equally applies to students in special schools where they can be cared for at home.

The DfE principles on school opening is an expectation that no more than 10% of the school population will be attending. The overiding principle is that "if it is at all possible for children to be at home then they should be" .

The whole point of school closures is to reduce the spread of transmission. Therefore, schools should be supporting the minimum number of students and deploy the minimum level of staff so as to reduce the risk of exposure to the minimum number of people. The government decision is based on reducing the occupancy rate of school buildings  to 10% and to increase the number of people working at home.

All decisions about school opening and staffing levels should flow from that. It would be irresponsible for all staff to be at work - that would defeat the object of the exercise, which is to minimise travel and contact.

Who should definitely be working from home - There are three groups of staff who fall into this category:

those who have developed a new continous cough and/or high temperature

those who are are in one of the vulnerable groups identified by the government

those who live with, or care for someone, in one of the vulnerable groups listed in the link above

This is government advice - it is not for your Head to decide on or override.

How Schools should be organising the childcare for those key workers outlined above. - Once schools have established the number of children who will be attending (See flow chart above), the Head should determine the minimum number of staff needed to provide safe childcare for them. This should mean asking staff to volunteer to be on a rota with the remaining asked to work from home. The NEU is encouraging members to take part in this rota unless they are in one of the three categories above.

There is no reason why this rota cannot be arranged by email or Zoom type conferencing. There should be little reason for all staff to be asked to attend work on Monday. If they are ligitimate reasons why this cannot be done remotely then it should be for a minumum time only to organise satisfactory arrangements and any meeting should adhere to social distancing guidelines (2m between people)

We are hearing many encouraging and heartening reports from Islington schools where management and staff are working effectively and responsibly together to help their comunities in these difficult times.

However we also are hearing reports where this is not happening. To those Heads we say that this will only work if there is a team response not compulsion. Compulsion will lead to resentment and people staying away. Success will only be borne out of mutual respect, understanding and support.

The union will not hestitate to 'name and shame' or report to the authorities school operating outside of government advice and guidelines and putting the health of our members and their families at risk.

Getting Paid - There should be no question of anyone losing pay through this crisis. All staff who have a contract with an Islington school are covered by the Burgundy Book (teachers) and Green Book (support staff) and threfore should be on full play with any absences not counting for sickness monitoring purposes. Supply/Agency teachers are in a different position and the NEU is trying to address their situation nationally. We certainly believe that any supply teacher who is on a long-term placement should be treated in the same way as permanent staff.

Carers Leave: Whilst we expect education staff to be included in any key worker definition for school attendance the The LA Special Leave policy states: Carers’ leave is applicable to employees who have responsibility for a dependent. It may be granted to all employees, regardless of length of service, up to a maximum of 10 days’ full pay within any 12- month period (pro rata for part time staff). This time off is to manage a genuine domestic emergency. In exceptional circumstances, the Headteacher (or nominated manager) may allow up to 5 days additional special leave with pay in any 12-month period.

Safeguarding and E-Safety whilst working from home - When working at home you must remember safeguarding. If an educator is communicating with any students online then care must be taken to ensure that there is no possibility of allegations of unprofessional behaviour. Contact should only be through a platform provided by the school or college (you should not skype or similar from your own account). You should never use a personal email address to parents or students or us WhatsApp etc. Any contact in this way should be via a school email and we suggest you email groups not individual students. Schools should have protocol regarding remote logging in and out of school based systems. You should never phone parents or students from your own phone (mobile or landline) even with the ability to withhold your number.You are putting yourself at risk with a single accidental unwithheld number.

If you are borrowing IT equipement from school you should make sure that you have clear permission for this and that it is covered by school insurance.

Easter Opening - The government has said that they want schools to continue with some form of provision during the Easter holiday. At this stage we have no further information on this. Currently under the terms of the STPCD document you cannot be told to work in the Easter holiday (unless you are on the leadership scale which is different). However members in schools may wish to discuss the switching of holiday periods for some staff (i.e. you are not expected to work at school or home for a period in exchange) but at this stage this would be purely voluntary unless there is a change in legislation.

Best wishes

Tony Buttifint

Secretary Islington NEU

Member FAQ's


The Next Meeting of Islington NEU is on 

Tuesday 19th May


National Education Union members working in City & Islington Sixth Form College (along with members in many other colleges across the country) will be taking their 4th, 5th and 6th days of strike action on Wednesday 12 February, Thursday 27 February and Tuesday 10 March (the day before Budget day) to defend their pay, working conditions and employment.

It is to the Government’s shame that cuts to 16-19 funding have been deeper and have gone on for longer than any other school sector. The Education Select Committee has said that funding per student fell by a full 16% in real terms between 2010–11 and 2018–19 – twice the fall in school funding (8%). There is currently an overall £700 million shortfall in funding for Post 16 Education.

Teaching staff numbers and support staff posts have fallen significantly due to the real-terms cuts, while at the same time student numbers have risen. This weighs heavily on our members’ workload and is putting the future of Sixth Form Colleges under serious threat. If the crisis continues to go unaddressed, it is students’ education that will suffer.

The NEU is arguing for the pay of Sixth Form College teachers and support staff to be restored to match that in schools, and for action on workload and job losses caused by underfunding.

NEU members will be taking action to secure the funding needed to sustain fair pay, conditions and employment, including reversing job losses, class size increases, and cuts to teaching time and curriculum provision.

Please send messages of support to and come along to the picket (even for a short time before you go to work) on Wednesday 12th February from 7.30am outside the college at 283-309 Goswell Rd, The Angel, London EC1V 7LA


Five Challenges for the New Government

The Conservatives did not win the election on education: their promises on school funding were insufficient, their plans to bring back no-notice Ofsted inspections left teachers and TAs dismayed and they ignored the severe and escalating crisis of child poverty.

We make these five challenges to the Government as we believe that they are issues that they must urgently address

  1. End school cuts and invest in education
  2. End child poverty
  3. Replace Ofsted with a fair way of evaluating schools
  4. End high-stakes primary testing
  5. Address the teacher retention and recruitment crisis
Support our call by adding your name to our statement here


Big thanks to your members for contributing £100 to Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition.  It is particularly welcome to receive support from the NEU as the NHS is suffering many similar issues as Education, particularly the privatisation of the running of bits of it, underfunding and very poor pay leading to shortages of staff.

Whittington Hospital is currently facing TWO court cases. One relating to a missed diagnosis of cervical cancer, an area of medicine in which they have been world leaders. So that is shocking. And the case in which we are involved, where Grenfell contractors are suing the Hospital for FOURTEEN MILLION pounds for deciding not to procure them to loan money and to plan for their Estate Strategy. This whole debacle relates to the refusal of the Government to finance much needed hospital development and of course the use of private and reckless private companies who put profits before safety.

Our fightback is costly. So your support is great. Of course, there will be more battles to fight under the new Government.

With thanks and in solidarity

 A qualified teacher for every child in every lesson  Allow councils to open new schools where they are needed Consult the profession properly on changes to the curriculum and to examinations  Don’t test the very youngest  Fund schools and colleges properly Remove excessive workload and pointless bureaucracy  End performance related pay for teachers  Reverse unfair pension changes  Ensure government/union talks are about policies rather than just their implementation  Make sure we have enough teachers