A recruitment trade body has highlighted the lack of resource planning and collaboration with supply teacher agencies on behalf of the government as part of both its autumn term back to school and summer catch up plans.
As it stands, current restrictions on group sizes will be lifted in September to allow schools, colleges and nurseries to fully reopen to all children and young people, as Covid-19 infection rates continue to fall.
Covid-19 secure measures will remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission, with schools being asked to keep children in class or year group sized ‘bubbles’ and encourage older children to keep their distance from each other and staff where possible. This is alongside protective measures such as regular cleaning and handwashing.
In addition, children in England are set to benefit from a £1 billion Covid “catch-up” package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time.
However, Tania Bowers, Head of Public Affairs at The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), says that despite detailed government guidance on the autumn return there has been no clarification of how the extended summer catch up programme is going to work and who is going to deliver the programme.
“Our members have many supply teachers on furlough ready and willing to work – they can be part of the solution but no-one, thus far has spoken to the education recruitment sector – it’s a major resource that the Government has simply overlooked both for the catch up programme and the planned September return,” she said.
Katie Rees, Chair of APSCo’s Education Sector Group and Managing Director of Smile Education, added: “We don’t how the catchup and tutoring programmes are going to work, how they are going to be resourced, whether it will take place remotely and how the investment for this is going to be allocated. In terms of the return to school in September, I feel desperately sorry for Head Teachers who have a major resource planning headache on their hands. The senior leadership teams in schools have had a really tough time and now have a major logisitics headache to contend with in terms of getting schools ready in just eight weeks.
“According to the guidance, they will have to revisit and update all of their risk assessments, implement ‘sensible and proportionate’ control measures and also juggle staggered start, finish and break times. As a sector we have the ability to help schools fill the gap to get attainment levels back up to scratch and we have people ready and available to work – we can be part of the solution but only if Government includes us in the planning process. We really need some joined up thinking on this so that our children get the education they need – and deserve.”