• The effect on the education sector has been one of the most contentious issues that has arisen from the pandemic.

    Exam results chaos, ever-evolving government guidance, and the potential of a second wave of the virus continues to cause a great deal of uncertainty for teachers, parents, and pupils.

    At our recent Education Matters Forum on 25 August 2020, run jointly with Kreston Reeves, Employment Partner Antonio Fletcher, alongside Phil Reynolds, hosted a session for education professionals which addressed the key issues affecting the sector.

    This article outlines the main questions we were asked by Education Matters Forum attendees. It also summarises the guidance we provided.

    Facilitating a safe working environment for pregnant employees

    We recommend that health and safety risk assessments for pregnant employees must now take the current circumstances into account.

    The latest government guidance points to occupational advice from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

    Managing vulnerable staff

    For staff who are clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable, we recommend undertaking additional risk assessments for them and adjusting these where necessary. They are, however, generally expected to attend work. This is as schools are not considered a high-risk environment.

    Reassuring staff

    The issue of how to reassure staff to ensure they feel comfortable and safe in the workplace, as well as helping to minimise absence levels and disruption, was discussed. We recommend prioritising staff wellbeing and providing staff with access to senior leaders so that they are free to raise concerns and issues.

    The general consensus among attendees was that having agile systems to facilitate home learning at very short notice will become a necessity. This is also the expectation set by government guidance. Ensuring that systems remain robust and that staff are clear on their responsibility for processing confidential and personal data therefore remains a key consideration.

    Face coverings

    At the time of the forum, the government advice around face coverings in schools was unclear. Guidance issued since, however, clarifies that from 1 September, new advice around face coverings applies to staff and pupils in some schools, and those in further education.

    The government has confirmed that face coverings are not necessary in education settings generally. This is because a system of control, applicable to all education environments, provides additional mitigating measures. Schools and colleges can require face coverings in indoor communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that this is right in their particular circumstances.

    Data collection

    It is best practice to ensure up to date contact details in different forms are held for parents and carers. This is so notifications regarding self-isolation and related issues can be sent out at short notice if required.

    Upcoming Education Matters Forum

    If you are interested in attending the next Education Matters Forum, please email info@brachers.co.uk to opt in to our education database, where we send emails with updates on the latest education news and events for this sector.

    Can we help?

    Take a look at our Education page for useful information, resources, guidance, details of our team and how we may be able to help you

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