Schools plan to bring back online classes and Covid-style lessons for vulnerable children as they prepare for expected teacher strikes, The Independent has said.
Ministers also hope schools can come together to share resources, which raises the possibility of pupils being transported to different premises for their lessons.
The government is drawing up contingency plans for possible walkouts across England, with two of the UK’s main teachers’ unions – the National Education Union (NEU) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) – who are due to announce the results of the strike votes on Monday. .
The National Education Union has said it is confident teachers will support the proposed walkouts and believes industrial action could begin as early as January 30.
At a meeting last week, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan warned unions that “the stakes have never been higher” when it comes to strikes, as it would affect children whose education has already been challenged by the pandemic.
Paul Smith, CEO of the White Horse Federation, an academic trust with 31 schools, said while he respects teachers’ right to strike, his trust has a “moral responsibility” to balance that right with everyone’s needs, “especially those who are most vulnerable”.
He said that if the NEU ballot reaches the threshold for industrial action, his organization will “introduce Covid-like arrangements so that the most vulnerable students and those from families of key workers have a safe and warm place to be. render during any industrial action”. .
The group also plans to provide lunch for anyone who qualifies for free school meals.
But he said he hoped ministers and unions would find a solution to avert a strike. “The last thing our students should have to endure is more days without school,” he said.
Seamus Murphy, CEO of Turner Schools, an academic trust with five schools in Folkestone, said his organization plans to provide online learning as well as in-person lessons for vulnerable children and those preparing for their GCSEs and A- Levels.
” – established digital systems.
It is understood ministers want schools owned by multi-academy trusts to share resources on strike days, particularly if they already share a headmaster.
A government source said: “We have some fantastic heads who are very innovative and creative, and I expect we’ll see good examples of that in the event of strikes.”
Teachers’ unions say strikes are needed because teachers’ pay has been eroded over the past 12 years
Dame Rachel de Souza, the children’s commissioner, warned that the strikes would put vulnerable pupils at risk and criticized teachers for planning industrial action.
“As we face the prospect of teacher strikes in England, I believe more than ever that this is the wrong course of action,” she wrote in The Sunday Telegraph. “It is detrimental to the results of the children. It will disrupt their learning just as they get back on track [after the pandemic].”
Sam Freedman, who was an adviser to the Department for Education when Michael Gove was education secretary, said the two main options schools would have would be online learning and meeting in a bid to keep at least one open site.
“Most multi-academy trusts are geographically concentrated, with three or four schools in the same city or part of a city,” he said. “So [joining together] would definitely be an option. Tell parents, ‘You’re going to have to travel a little farther today if you want [your] kids in school, because we have an open site.
Covid Was Its Peak
He said schools “probably won’t” make much of live online classes of the kind that have exhausted many working parents during the pandemic. But he suggested there could be more use of pre-recorded online courses, like those created by the government’s Oak Academy when Covid was at its peak.
Union leaders, however, have expressed doubts about the plans.
Children could resume online lessons if teachers agree to strike.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders union, said if the strike continues any decision to keep a school open should be based on a “risk assessment taking into account the safety of staff and students”. .
Any school work that students are required to do at home should also take into consideration “staff availability and workload in defining and grading that work”, he added.
He said the “last thing” everyone wants is more disruption, but there is a crisis in the profession caused by the erosion of teachers’ pay and conditions over the past 12 years, which is already harming education every day.
“Rather than seeking to limit the impact of possible strikes, the government should address the root cause and provide teachers with substantial, fully funded pay,” he said.
The Department of Education pointed to the fact that another union’s poll last week fell short of the turnout needed to approve the strike.
A spokesperson said: “After two years of disrupted education for children and young people, families will be relieved that NASUWT teachers have not chosen to strike. The education secretary arranged further meetings with union leaders to avoid damaging strikes.
“We have already met the unions’ demand for an extra £2billion for schools next year and the year after in the Autumn Statement, and awarded teachers the highest prize in 30 years .”
This article is originally published on news-24.fr