Islington District - National Education Union

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The start of the autumn term sees us moving into uncharted territory, with schools and colleges opening for all students and the virus still out there. We have not been helped in our preparations by the government who have failed to give clear guidance and delayed important announcements until the last minute.

The NEU believes that children should be back in school and that everything should be done to maintain this for as long as possible. That means having robust plans in place to ensure the safety of staff and children. It also means being ready to respond to changes in the local situation and having a clear outline of what happens if cases develop.

This a brief guide of what we want Reps and members to know – for a full guide visit the NEU Website


Schools must have a full plan, or risk assessment, in place to welcome staff and students back at the beginning of term, this should be discussed and agreed with staff. This is covered by the NEU checklist and covers issues such as: hygiene • cleaning • groupings • movement around the building • start and finish times • lunch and break times • use of equipment • marking • meetings and more. Reps should be consulted on the risk assessment and all staff should be made familiar with the arrangements.


Many schools have thorough plans in place that meet the NEU checklist, but these have yet to be tested by the reality of having hundreds of adults and children on site - there will be things that don’t work, things people haven’t thought of and, above all, we must avoid complacency setting in.

It is important, therefore, that the plan is seen as a live document and kept under continual review. The NEU suggests that a system is set up for staff to refer any issues and that these are dealt with promptly. We also suggest a regular catch-up meeting between unions and SLT.


It is equally important that schools are prepared for a change in circumstances and are ready to respond in the event of positive cases within the school or a rise in the local case rate. It is vital that everyone knows what to do if circumstances change and what their responsibilities are. Local figures are now available and the government has issued a four-tiered approach to guide local responses. As part of their Plan B schools should be ready to support home learning, if groups of children have to be sent home or the school has to close down again.

4. FAQs

While we all want to be back in school, many staff are anxious and there are many questions from NEU members.

Full guidance is available on the website but here are some of the most commonly asked questions:

· Vulnerable staff: individual risk assessments should be carried out for staff in higher risk groups, including pregnant women. Everything should be done to minimise risk to these members and where possible we recommend that they be allowed to work from home. Pregnant women in their third trimester should work from home.

· Masks and face coverings: although the government advise that face coverings are not necessary, the NEU recommends that staff who wish to wear a face covering are allowed to do so. The advice on face coverings is being kept under review and schools should agree a policy with staff.

· Quarantine: staff who have been instructed to quarantine on return from holiday should discuss the situation with their head and be available to work from home. Staff should not be deducted pay as a result of quarantine.


New pay scales have been published incorporating the teacher pay award for September 2020. Reps should ask their head to confirm that these will be implemented for all teaching staff. These can be found at Pay Scales. For those members in local authority schools we will be talking to the Local Authority to make sure these appear in your 'pay packet' as soon as possible.

Reps should also confirm that all eligible teachers will be awarded pay progression for September. No member of staff should be penalised if they have been unable to complete their appraisal.

Note: support staff received a 2.75% pay increase in April as part of the local government award.


The more workplace based reps we have, the stronger the National Education Union will be. If your school or college does not have a rep please consider talking on the role. this can be shared with another member. More details re becoming a Rep can be found here.


All members should have received their membership credentials over the Summer. If any information such as your school/your address/your email needs updating please do this asap using this link membership update.  

Briefing for NEU members

Coronavirus: symptoms, testing and self-isolation

This is a summary of the NHS and government guidelines on what steps to take if you develop symptoms or test positive for Covid-19. For more detailed guidance please visit:

1.         What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

·         A high temperature OR          

·         a continuous dry cough OR                

·         a change or loss of taste and/or smell.

2.         What should I do if I develop symptoms?

If you develop any of these symptoms you must stay home and self-isolate for ten days from the start of the symptoms. Book a test as soon as possible:

Tests for the general public can be booked online at (or by calling 119)

Tests for essential workers are prioritised and can be booked at:

For help with testing:

Your school may also have test kits available.

All members of your household should self isolate for 14 days (the extra days account for the incubation period) whether they show symptoms or not. If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, they should get tested. They need to stay at home for at least ten days from when their symptoms appear, regardless of what day they are on in their original fourteen-day cycle.

3.         What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation means you must not leave your house for any reason. Members of your household should not leave the house and you should try to minimise contact with other members of your household.

4.        What happens if my test is negative

If you and your household are isolating because you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, you and your household are able to end self-isolation early if you receive a negative test. However, if you are isolating because you live with someone who has symptoms, you must continue to isolate for 14 days even if you receive a negative test. You may only end isolation early if the person with symptoms in your household receives a negative test.

5.         What happens if I test positive?

If you have a positive test you must inform the school immediately and continue to self-isolate for at least ten days or until you have no fever, whichever is longer. You do not need to continue to self-isolate after ten days if you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

If you test positive you will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace Team who will ask you to share details of all those you have had close contact with from 48 hours before symptom occurred. These people will then be alerted and told to self isolate for 14 days.

close contact includes:

  • Household contacts: overnight contacts/ people who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive

  • Face-to-face contact (within 1 metre) with someone who has tested positive, including: being coughed on, having a face-to-face conversation, or having skin-to-skin physical contact, or any contact within 1 metre for 1 minute or longer without face-to-face contact (unless a person was protected by PPE)

  • a person who has been between 1 and 2 metres for more than 15 minutes from someone who has tested positive (unless a person was protected by PPE)

  • a person who has travelled in a small vehicle or on a plane near someone who has tested positive.

6.         If someone in my household has tested positive

You must self-isolate for fourteen days and get tested if you develop symptoms. You can return to work after fourteen days without symptoms. A negative test for you does not mean you can return to work as you may still develop the virus within the 14 days. You should only get tested if you show symptoms.

7.         If another member of staff or pupil develops symptoms

They should be sent home and should book a test as soon as possible. Members of their household must also self-isolate and get tested if they also develop symptoms. Any siblings, living in the same household, should not be coming to school. The school should alert those staff with whom they have been in close contact, so that staff can be alert to possible symptoms and the school is ready to respond to a positive test. Action does not need to be taken until there is a positive test result.

8.         If another member of staff or pupil tests positive?

The school should seek advice from the London Coronavirus Response Centre (LCRC) and establish which members of the school community they have had close contact with.

Note: Contact tracing is not necessary until there is a positive test and schools should only contact LCRC if there is a positive test.

9.       When should schools consider sending staff or pupils home?

If there is a positive test then the school may have to send a bubble or group of pupils and staff home. This will depend on the number of close contacts within the school. Schools will be advised and supported in making decisions by LCRC conducting a risk assessment with the school.

10.      If I am sent home do I need to get a test?

You do not need to do this straight away; you should only book a test if you develop symptoms.

11.    I have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19

You should be notified of this by NHS Test and Trace and must self-isolate for fourteen days and get a test if you develop symptoms – you can return to work after fourteen days without symptoms.

12.      I have been in contact with someone who has been identified as a close contact

You can attend work as normal - the risk of secondary transmission is low.

13.      Will I lose pay if I am self-isolating?

No member of staff should be penalised for following government guidelines; so there should be no question of losing pay for any of the reasons listed above.

14.   Please let us know of any out - breaks of positive cases in your school by emailing as soon as possible.

We will issue further updates but please do check the NEU website and contact us if you have any concerns about any aspect of this situation.


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