British and Irish teacher trade unions warn against premature reopening of schools

The General Secretaries of 10 teacher trade unions across the UK and Ireland have written to the Education Ministers in all 5 jurisdictions urging “significant caution in any consideration of reopening schools.”

The letter, sent by the British Irish Group of Teacher Unions (BIGTU) on behalf of almost 1 million teachers and education staff,  warns of the “very real risk of creating a spike in the transmission of the virus by a premature opening of schools”.

It calls for the establishment of sufficient  capacity to “test trace and isolate”  the infection as a prerequisite for school reopening, alongside  “significant operational changes [being] in place to ensure effective social distancing, strong hygiene routines linked to thorough cleansing practices, appropriate PPE [being] available where required, and ongoing risk assessments in place to monitor operations.”

The letter was sent to:

  • John Swinney MSP Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Scottish Parliament
  • Gavin Williamson MP Secretary of State for Education, UK Parliament
  • Kirsty Williams AM Minister for Education, National Assembly of Wales
  • Joe McHugh TD Minister of Education and Skills, Dail Eireann
  • Peter Weir MLA Minister for Education, Northern Ireland Assembly

The letter is signed by:

Larry Flanagan, General Secretary EIS (Educational Institute of Scotland)

Seamus Searson, General Secretary SSTA (Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association)

Patrick Roach, General Secretary NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers)

Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary NEU (National Education Union)

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary NEU (National Education Union)

Jo Grady, General Secretary UCU (University and College union)

John Mac Gabhann, General Secretary TUI (Teachers Union of Ireland)

Kieran Christie, General Secretary ASTI (Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland)

Joan Donegan, General Secretary IFUT (Irish Federation of University Teachers)

John Boyle, General Secretary INTO (Irish National Teachers’ Association)

Jacquie White, General Secretary UTU (Ulster Teachers’ Union)