21st May 2020
Covid-19 continues to impact on each and every one of us and each week brings changes and new issues to consider. UTU continues to engage on a regular basis with the Department of Education and the Employing Authorities about the way forward and this week was part of an NITC delegation which presented evidence to the Assembly Education Committee. We continue to respond to and seek information on the issues which you bring to us as they arise and commend you for your continuing participation in this regard. You are the practitioners – you know what is required.
In recent weeks, the Ulster Teachers’ Union surveyed members on the return to school. We have had almost 2500 responses. Thank you to every member who responded. The data we have gathered has been extremely useful and we have been using it in our discussions with the Department of Education and Education Authority.
If you wish to read a summary of the report, click the Survey Report link in your members email.
We can assure you that there has been no designated timeframe set as yet around a return to school but the process has begun to consult on, determine and set in place the systems and processes which will be required. Your responses have been fed – and will continue to be fed - directly into that work.
We have finally received guidance around what is needed this year regarding reporting to parents. The Minister has relaxed the usual requirements and has left it to the discretion of Principals as to what they feel is appropriate to include. We are aware that many of you have started – if not have already finished! – your annual reports and we hope that any limited information which we were able to provide was of help.
The scheme has now been released to support those teachers who were receiving no other payment from DE in respect of work. This has been long awaited and, by the response, highly appreciated now that it has finally arrived. Please be aware that you must apply on-line through the link on the DE website and that the closing date for applications is Tuesday 26th May.
RETURN TO SCHOOL
A further meeting took place today between the unions, teaching and non-teaching, and representatives from DE and the Employing Authorities to agree the processes for consultation on a return to school. All parties will be fully involved moving forward.
The Minister’s statement to the Executive today contained a reference regarding a school return in August. As yet there is a lack of clarity around the message. We would urge members not to be unduly concerned; we are aware of the concerns you have and will be representing those clearly. You will be kept fully informed of progress.
REMOTE LEARNING DURING EXTENDED SCHOOL CLOSURES DUE TO COVID-19
UPDATE TO MEMBERS
In the past few weeks, Principals, school leaders and teachers have quickly risen to the challenge of setting remote learning work for pupils using many different ways and formats.
During this time, when schools are closed, teachers are not expected to work as normal. It cannot be expected that planners, assessment or evaluating will take place in the normal way. Instead, teachers should be setting meaningful work for their classes.
School leaders should be mindful of the fact that teachers are doing the best they can in challenging times and respect and trust their professionalism. They are supporting remote learning whilst doing rota time in schools and attending to their own childcare needs. Time available should be primarily focused on supporting children, with administration and paperwork not directly related to the children’s learning experience being carried out only as and when the opportunity arises.
Pupils, parents and staff need to take a break in the evenings and at weekends. The UTU is advising that remote learning should not take place during this time. There may, however, be some vulnerable or anxious children who may need support during this time and as ever we trust the professional judgement of our members who will continue to care for them at this time. The pastoral support that schools offer pupils should continue and the health and well being for the staff should also be considered by the school leadership team.
UTU members are reminded that school leaders should ensure all the safeguarding procedures for staff using remote learning are in place. With this in mind, we would suggest that members do not use any web-based video conferencing with pupils. At times you may wish to upload to a school YouTube channel or make a short video clip, but members should be aware that when this goes onto the web, who observes it cannot be controlled. Teacher images and faces should not be included. The UTU strongly advises that were you asked to make video conferencing or a Youtube clip with your image that you contact us immediately.
The UTU strongly advises against giving out staff email addresses or contact details to pupils or parents. However, there may be times where Senior Leaders, Pastoral leaders or others find that parents or pupils require a point of contact. When this is required the UTU advises that only your C2k email account is used. Never use any personal email account.
Likewise, if pupils or parents can contact teachers via an app, the communication should be professional. Staff should be under no obligation to communicate with pupils or parents outside of the parameters established by the school and should speak to line managers or the designated teacher when concerns arise.
The UTU is fully aware that many teachers, parents and pupils may not have access to technology equipment or internet at home. Where a teacher feels they need access to ICT equipment, they should direct queries to their school leadership team. If they live in remote areas with poor internet or mobile networks, they should be under no obligation to purchase high speed internet or extra mobile data and should again speak to the school leadership team. Likewise, many families will have only one device, no printers or limited access to the internet and as such the demands from school must be flexible to support the child and family at this time.
INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME FOR SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS
Education Minister Peter Weir has announced a scheme to help support substitute teachers during the Covid-19 crisis.
Substitute teachers have been unable to access secure work as schools are closed except for vulnerable children and those of key workers.
The Minister said: “I am fully aware of the significant impact this pandemic has had on our pupils, teaching and non-teaching staff. The issue of funding for substitute teachers, who are unable to work and therefore unable to be paid, is one that and I, and my Department, have been working hard to resolve.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that we will be introducing an income support scheme for substitute teachers through the Covid-19 Response fund.
“The estimated total cost of the scheme is around £12m. My Department will allocate up to £8m and the Executive has agreed to fund the remaining £4m. I would also like to thank the Finance Minister for his support in this matter.”
The scheme will ensure that eligible substitute teachers, engaged between 1 January 2020 to 31 March 2020, will have access to an income for the period April to June 2020. They will receive an additional income through this scheme which will top up their income to at least 80% of that earned in the period January to March 2020.
Continuing, the Minister said: “Substitute teachers in Northern Ireland are a unique group of staff and the education sector depends on these individuals to be available in normal circumstances to cover for absences of permanent teachers.
“This will be welcome news to those staff for whom substitute teaching has been their regular source of income. Their income stopped abruptly when schools were instructed to close to pupils except for vulnerable children and those of key workers, and it is only right that they are not disadvantaged when so many other workers have been able to access the UK-wide furlough scheme.”
The Department’s COVID-19 page will be updated later today to enable applications from eligible substitute teachers: https://bit.ly/3bDGYbC
APPLICATION FOR PENSIONS DURING COVID19
This is the time of year when any members wishing to retire as of 31st August would be submitting their applications.
The Teachers’ Pay and Pensions Team (TPPT) have put in place contingency arrangements to enable you to apply for your pension using the TP4 form on-line. Forms are available for download from the TPPT website at https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/topics/teaching-staff.
For temporary teachers and those no longer in employment within the education sector, applications can be submitted directly to Teachers.Pensions@education-ni.gov.uk.
Supporting documentation can also be submitted electronically.
As the TPPT do not currently have access to telephones the following contact details may be used for any queries.
Teachers Pensions Team:
Voluntary Grammar Section:
General Teachers’ Payroll Queries:
South Eastern Section:
North Eastern Section:
TESTING FOR COVID19
The following information has been provided by HM Government and NHS.
Invitation to register for coronavirus testing
You have been identified as a frontline worker, delivering vital services. Getting tested is important, so you can have clarity on whether you, or a family member, has the coronavirus and then you can either return to work or continue to isolate yourself and your household.
You are eligible for a test because:
• you have coronavirus symptoms – a new continuous cough or high temperature and are following government guidelines on self-isolating; or
• a member of your household has coronavirus symptoms meaning you are self-isolating in line with government guidelines
The test will take place at one of our Regional Test Sites. The sites operate a drive-through model, meaning you or a member of your household must drive to the site. We regret that we cannot test people who arrive on foot, take public transport or a taxi.
Please complete your registration by emailing your name, telephone and organisation of work to NCTP@hscni.net. Someone will contact you then to book an appointment at either of the three test centres in NI
• SSE test centre, Odyssey Car park, Belfast BT3 9QQ
• Derry Rugby test centre, Judges Rd, Londonderry, BT47 6LN
• Craigavon MOT centre, Craigavon, BT63 5RY
Who from your household takes this test?
You are a frontline worker who is self-isolating because you are displaying symptoms, meaning you are eligible to take this test.
You are a frontline worker who is self-isolating because someone else in your household is displaying symptoms, and that person is over the age of 18, then they are eligible to take the test.
You are a frontline worker who is self-isolating because an under 18-year-old in your household is displaying symptoms then they are eligible to take the test. A parent or guardian must perform the swab test on 5-11-year olds. 12-18-year olds can perform the test on themselves. The test is unsuitable for under-fives. This test would still take place at a Regional Test Site.
Receiving your results
You will receive your results by email within 72 hours of taking the test. Please ensure you enter the correct contact details when you register.
When you arrive at the Regional Test Site
Location details will be sent to you in your confirmation email. You must present your employer-issued staff ID on arrival along with the confirmation email.
Test Sites are usually open 1000 – 1600. This helpful video shows you what to expect at a drive-thru test site.
Instructions when you visit a Regional Test Centre
To avoid risk of cross-contamination, our centre is a drive-through. You must arrive by car (not on foot, via public transport, by taxi or by any other means). Only people from your household may be in the car with you.
- Do not exit the car at any point whilst on site.
- Please note, bathroom facilities will not be available.
- When you arrive at the main gate DO NOT lower your windows.
- Once you are on site, we will use the car registration that you have provided to identify you. This is how you gain access to the site.
- Please press your employer-issued staff ID against the window for site security to see.
- You will be directed to a testing lane, where a member of our trained National Testing Team will instruct you to lower your window to carry out a coronavirus test.
- Please note that your test will be self-administered – you will be directed by a member of staff on site.
- You will then be instructed to follow the link on your phone which will enable you to scan your test kit’s barcode.
Your results will then be sent back to your email within 72 hours.
When you are at the test station please:
• Park with your handbrake on
• Turn your engine off
• Turn your radio off
• Have your phone ready for after your test, to scan the barcode of the test kit
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- Covid Update 21st May 2020
- Covid Update 20th April 2020
- Covid Update 7th April 2020
- Covid Update 3rd April 2020
- Covid Update 30th March 2020
- Covid Update 25th March 2020
- Covid Update 24th March 2020
- Covid Update 22nd March 2020
- Covid Update 20th March 2020
- Covid Update 19th March 2020
- Covid Update 18th March 2020
- Covid Update 17th March 2020
- Covid Update 16th March 2020