Wide screen devices may view this page better by clicking here

Education :: Students

spotCampaigns

spotOrganisations

spotArguments for socialism

spotPeople

spotInternational

spotEvents

spotAround the UK


All keywords


All Campaigns subcategories:

Anti-capitalism

Anti-fascist

Anti-racism

Anti-war

Asylum

Black and Asian

Children

CNWP

Corporate crime

Disability

* Education

Election campaigns

Environment

EU

Finance

Food

Gender Recognition Act

Health and safety

Health and welfare

Housing

Human Rights

LGBT Pride

Local government

Local services

Low pay

Migration

Nationalisation

New workers party

NHS

Pensions

Post Office

Poverty

Privatisation

Public Services

Socialism

Socialist

Sport

Stop the slaughter of Tamils

Students

The state

Transport

TUSC

Welfare rights

Women

Workplace and TU campaigns

Youth


Students


Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 1114, 16 December 2020: Unemployment and Covid rising - The crisis is not over - Fight for jobs and safety

Search site for keywords: Schools - Unions - Children - School - London - Health - National Education Union - Students

Effective testing and properly funded safety plan needed in schools

Unions must act now

School workers are having to carry out extra duties without support, photo Peyman Hamidipoor/snn.ir/CC

School workers are having to carry out extra duties without support, photo Peyman Hamidipoor/snn.ir/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Martin Powell-Davies, National Education Union member

The contradictory chaos at the heart of the government's Covid policies has been brought into sharp focus by the sudden announcement that mass testing of secondary school students is going to be rushed out in parts of Essex, Kent and north east London.

There's no question that regular mass testing of school students and staff is needed. It's a demand that the National Education Union (NEU) raised as one of our 'five tests' for Covid-safety in schools back in May.

A few weeks ago, infection rates in the north of England were much higher than in the south. However, official statistics show that it's now London where rates are rising fastest, particularly among school-age children.

Like some Tory 'King Canute', health secretary Matt Hancock hopes rushing out mobile testing units can stop the rising tide washing over London and the south east. But, once again, instead of a properly resourced plan, he's resorting to half-baked measures.

The practicalities of making sure that schoolchildren in the targeted areas are all tested are far from straightforward. No doubt exhausted and overstretched school staff will again be expected to try and help bring some order to Tory chaos.

Testing this late in term also means that children testing positive will then have to self-isolate with their families over the Christmas period that the government has supposedly 'saved' from Covid restrictions.

Worse, government ministers still can't bring themselves to admit to what is now surely blindingly obvious. If school-aged children are so widely infected, insisting that parents send them into classes of 30 - in badly ventilated classrooms - inevitably means that schools will be acting as a significant driver of wider community transmission.

Yet, while these mass tests are being announced, badly hit London boroughs are being ordered to withdraw their plans to manage the situation by finishing term with just remote learning (see below).

As parents and staff in the hard-hit north have understandably pointed out with anger, government failure to organise widespread mass testing in other regions has already left thousands of families vulnerable. Some of their children will have been returning home from school untested, probably without symptoms, but still infectious.

But government failure mustn't be allowed to stoke regional divisions. Regular effective mass testing of children should be happening in every area.

The risk of transmission should also be kept down through a properly resourced plan for safer reduced class sizes, with some children being supported to learn from home on a rota basis where necessary - certainly in those areas with the highest infection rates. Parents and carers, who are left without childcare, should be paid in full if they have to remain at home as a result.

Of course, these demands aren't new. Trade unions and parent campaigns have been calling for action to reduce infection risks in schools for months.

Instead of just pleading with ministers who refuse to listen, what's needed is action to make sure they are forced to change policy. The NEU should follow the lead taken by the Scottish teaching union EIS in Glasgow, and prepare members for ballots for strike action where employers continue to refuse to act to protect health and safety.


Tories force Greenwich schools to open - but unions must stand firm

So the Tories have chosen to use the dictatorial powers enshrined in the Coronavirus Act to order Greenwich Council to keep schools open - presumably other London councils following similar routes will receive the same.

Greenwich Council has now backed down. But the council should have stuck to its guns. It was acting in the interests of public health - unlike the Tories.

Let's see the Tories justify in court why it's "necessary and proportionate" to force schools to stay open, just when London is going back into tier 3, and when Hancock has blamed the rising infection rate on school-age children!

The council hasn't stood firm, but the unions must. If there is a serious and imminent danger from rising infection rates, then the unions should advise staff of their rights under Section 44 to refuse to work in unsafe workplaces.

If the Tories up the ante, then they have to be faced down.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






Education keywords:

Academies (192)

Classroom assistants (8)

College (281)

Colleges (95)

Council (2350)

ESOL (5)

Education (1154)

Free Schools (17)

Grant (34)

Higher Education (87)

Medway (14)

Ofsted (17)

Performance (34)

Performance-related (7)

SATs (26)

School (646)

Schools (473)

Students (1301)

Teachers (498)

Teaching assistants (31)

Universities (170)

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Article dated 16 December 2020

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

MEMBER RESOURCES

Pay in Fighting Fund

Pay in paper and book sales

Leaflets

Bulk book orders

New member submission

WHAT'S ON

triangle25 Feb West London Socialist Party: Aids, section 28 and equal marriage - lessons for the fight for LGBTQ+ rights today

triangle25 Feb Bradford Socialist Party: Farmers revolt in India

triangle25 Feb Cardiff East Socialist Party: Struggle in Myanmar

More...


The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party

Covid

What we think

News

Lessons from history

Workplace news

TUSC

Campaigns news

LGBT+ history month

International news

Readers' opinion

Subscribespacer|spacerebook / Kindlespacer|spacerPDF versionspacer|spacerText / Printspacer|spacer1122 onlinespacer|spacerBack issuesspacer|spacer Audio files


Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers.  They are fighting against

Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers. They are fighting against 'fire and rehire' - designed to worsen terms and conditions. Photo by Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

What We Stand For
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Platform setting: =

Desktop version