Commenting on the education recovery package announced today (24 February 2021) by the Department for Education (DfE), Deborah Lawson, Community Union’s Assistant General Secretary (Voice Community education section), said:
“We welcome the new and previously announced funding to support recovery across state funded schools.
“We also welcome the Government’s recognition that education recovery is a long-term commitment, and not just about short-term headline-making measures.
“We are pleased that the Government has not announced lengthening terms or cutting short holidays, and that schools will be able to make their own decisions about what is best for their students.
“Voice Community also welcomes the commitment from Education Recovery Commissioner Sir Kevan Collins to work with the sector to develop these plans. Clearly, more details are needed on the long-term plans.
“However, questions remain about whether this funding will be sufficient and about who will staff activities such as summer schools. The Government must start recruiting and deploying extra supply staff and tutors as soon as possible.
“The Education Secretary has said that head teachers could decide to use the money to pay teachers for overtime to do extra teaching. Teachers and support staff are already at risk of burn-out after many hours of extra unpaid work. If they are to do overtime, it must be paid, and it must be optional and voluntary. They must not be compelled or put under pressure to do so.
“Engaging supply staff or tutors to undertake extra teaching would ensure that exhausted teachers and support staff are able to rest and enjoy uninterrupted leisure over the school holiday. Many supply staff have had no opportunity for work during the past year.
“We would also like to hear more about plans and funding to support children’s and staff’s mental health and wellbeing.”