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.
Information has also been released by the Department of Education this week in relation to Shared Education. Any Shared Education costs committed to June 2020 will be met and the decision has been taken to suspend pupil to pupil activity for the 2020/21 year.
Further information is available on the UTU website.
Now that we are seeing the first signs of society re-opening we can begin to look forward to activities which we haven’t been able to engage in for the past weeks and months.
Your Membership Plus card is due to be renewed at the end of September and a survey has been released today to establish, amongst other things, what you would like to see at discounted rates moving forward. You will receive a copy of the survey if you have registered your card on-line. We would encourage you to take the opportunity to put your ideas forward.
The following information was made available to schools this week:
Schools are advised that they should continue to place their orders for Exercise Books & Stationery as normal and liaise directly with our contracted suppliers to make arrangements for the delivery of goods to be made to schools now to avoid any logistical difficulties for contractors trying to fulfil multiple back orders across the EA in August / September which may result in delays for schools.
We are aware that schools are seeking to make arrangements for staff to prepare classrooms for the new academic year/ make requisition orders. We would therefore like to remind members that PHA guidance must be followed at all times when they are asked to attend school for such purposes. Those members who are deemed at high risk or live with vulnerable members of their household should not attend school and should continue to work from home.
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.