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Recovery principles

UCU's post-16 education recovery principles

UCU's approach to framing national and local demands regarding Coronavirus and Covid are based on five core principles.

  1. There should be a clear focus on consistent high-quality education provision for all in post-16 education, avoiding the disruption experienced last year
  2. There should be a clear focus on ensuring the health & safety of all staff in the post-16 sector
  3. The physical and mental health of all students in post-16 education is of vital importance
  4. Education settings should not become centres of community Covid transmission
  5. Adequate funding must be made available

To ensure these principles are followed, UCU are making demands nationally and locally:

1. There should be a clear focus on consistent high-quality education provision for all in post-16 education

Governments:

  • must ensure disruption resulting from Covid outbreaks is avoided
  • must ensure a consistent, high-quality appropriately funded recovery with resources made available so that plans can be made to deliver successful remote, blended and in-person learning
  • must ensure clarity over Covid-related changes to external assessment and accountability.

Employers:

  • must reach agreement with trade unions over up-to-date risk assessments, including those covering any returns to in-person teaching
  • must ensure additional resources and staffing are identified, bringing casualised staff onto permanent contracts to support delivery
  • must provide staff and students with the right tools for successful remote, blended, and in-person learning
  • must give staff the necessary resources (including time and access to professional development) to develop the range of provision required to provide high-quality education
  • must commit to investing in staff in the short, medium, and long term to deliver an effective recovery.

2. There should be a clear focus on the health & safety of all staff in the post-16 sector

Governments:

  • must provide comprehensive, timely, and appropriate guidance for post-16 education providers, including that to be used in the event of rising infection rates and staff and/or student self-isolation
  • must ensure a working system of test, track, and trace is in place
  • must ensure more effective regulation and checks on workplace safety measures.

Employers:

  • must meet legal obligations and ensure workplaces are safe environments
  • must consult recognised unions on all health and safety measures and ensure risk assessments are robust and monitored rigorously
  • must agree with recognised trade unions appropriate mitigations to control and minimise Covid transmission, including the provision and wearing of high-quality face masks, good ventilation, hygiene protocols, and social distancing
  • must provide recognised trade unions with regular updates on case numbers amongst staff and students
  • must agree measures with recognised trade unions to prevent excessive workloads and workplace stress
  • must meet their obligations under the Equality Act and take steps to protect those at risk, such as those who are clinically vulnerable and other at-risk categories.

3. The physical and mental health of students in post-16 education is of vital importance

Governments:

  • must ensure students aged 18 years or older have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated prior to the start of the next academic year, with the same provision for younger age groups when available.

Employers:

  • must work with the relevant government and local and regional NHS providers to ensure vaccines can be delivered to students in all over 18s education provision
  • must ensure those self-isolating, or caring for those self-isolating, are fully paid and not discriminated against
  • must ensure there is no discrimination against those clinically vulnerable, vulnerable, or those suffering from Long Covid
  • must ensure the mental health of staff and students is protected, and appropriate measures put in place for those in crisis.

4. Education settings should not become centres of community Covid transmission

Governments:

  • must ensure an effective system of test, track, and trace is in place
  • must ensure full sick pay and support is available for those self-isolating in all sectors
  • ensure that public health bodies and health & safety authorities maintain effective communications with education sector employers to ensure that those employers are able to fulfil their requirements under health and safety legislation and public health requirements.

Employers:

  • must ensure free PCR testing is available for all staff and students
  • must ensure effective monitoring systems are in place to identify workplace infections and to alert staff and students to any need to self-isolate
  • must maintain regular and effective communications with public health bodies and health and safety authorities, sharing the outcomes of such communications with recognised trade unions
  • provision and mandated wearing of high-quality masks (excluding those exempt) on site and making the necessary modifications that improve ventilation and allow for effective social distancing.

5. Adequate funding must be made available

Governments:

  • must ensure an appropriate settlement is forthcoming for post-16 education in the next spending review
  • must ensure adequate funding is in place to ensure the health & safety of staff and students in all educational settings.

Employers:

  • must ensure funding is focused on meeting these principles by delivering adequate staffing and fair agreements on pay and workload
  • must ensure that capital funding is made available where necessary to improve areas such as IT infrastructure and building ventilation.
Last updated: 23 July 2021