Union leaders fear schools won’t cope with pressure of constant outbreaks

Suffolk and Essex prepresentatives from the National Education Union, Graham White and Jerry Glazier, are concerned...

Suffolk and Essex prepresentatives from the National Education Union, Graham White and Jerry Glazier, are concerned schools will not cope under the current model of learning. Picture: JERRY GLAZIER/GETTY - Credit: Archant

Union leaders have become increasingly concerned the current model of teaching pupils both isolating at home and coming to school is unsustainable, and fear schools will not cope long-term.

Principle of Chantry Academy Craig d'Cunha says while the current model is not sustainable forever, his staff and pupils...

Principle of Chantry Academy Craig d'Cunha says while the current model is not sustainable forever, his staff and pupils have been amazing so far. Pictured Principle Craig d'Cunha

Graham White is the National Education Union (NEU) representative for Suffolk and says schools are currently in a really difficult position, dealing with constant staff and pupil absences due to Covid as well as normal teaching.

“Teachers are under phenomenal pressure and are being stretched more than ever before,” he said.

“Not only are they putting themselves at risk by coming in to school to teach, they are also on an exhausting schedule of both in person teaching, remote learning and marking.

“We have to think seriously about the impact on our schools and the logic of transmission – at my grandson’s school they can only keep to one metre apart as it’s a small local primary.


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“It makes more sense to have a rota of children and staff so that only half are in school at one time and prioritise those children who need to be in more often.”

Jerry Glazier, Essex NEU representative, said the union has always backed the idea of ‘blended learning’ and said smaller class bubbles would lessen the impact isolation has on staff.

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“These are enormous pressures and many schools are putting themselves in a deficit financially just to cope.

“Teachers are not on the priority list for vaccinations either so there seems to be no recognition for the work people have done over the last eight months.”

Craig d’Cunha, principal of Chantry Academy, said while he doesn’t think the current model is sustainable forever, schools will cope, however long they need to.

“We can tolerate it for four, five even six months if we have to and this has shown just how resilient staff and pupils are,” he said.

“They have been truly amazing.”

A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said: “The Suffolk education sector is working to national guidelines and responding to impact of the Covid-19 as it spreads within the county.

“Suffolk’s school leaders have been working hard to keep schools open for as many pupils as possible whilst providing a home learning offer when pupils are required to self-isolate. SCC have been working closely to support school leaders during this time.”

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