I wish to update you on arrangements relating to the New School Day planning for the school year 2020/21. 

NIPSA is participating in a sub-group established by the Department of Education to review and comment on proposals and to ensure the voice of the non-teaching workforce is central to any plans. There appears to be move a by Minister Weir to direct schools to re-open on 17 August. There is no agreement with NIPSA for this to happen.

I will be writing to the Education Authority today reminding them that we need to be formally consulted on any proposals which will affect the contractual arrangements of staff and that the consent of staff must not be assumed. There are a number of agreements in place covering the contractual position of the workforce which will be enforced and any attempt to diminish these will be robustly defended. In line with these agreements, non-teaching staff will not be available for work during July and August either to support childcare for key workers/vulnerable children or the earlier re-opening of schools.

I understand that instructions were issued via a webinar with a Head-teaching Union on 9 June 2020 advising them to begin planning for the 17 August. This is completely unacceptable. We have longstanding negotiating arrangements in place to protect the rights of staff and they will be respected. The obsession with forcing Year 7 pupils to return early is inextricably linked to the selection processes run by an ever decreasing number of Grammar schools and should not be indulged by the Department of Education.

I would further remind you that schools must not be requesting staff to return to work except for the arrangements in place to support childcare in schools or distance learning for pupils at home. Any changes will depend on the relaxation of restrictions from the NI Executive and formal consultations with the Trade Unions.

I will continue to update you as soon as more information becomes available.

Alan Law
Assistant Secretary (Acting)