We round up the latest news affecting schools and colleges.
More pupils sent home as COVID disruption soars
There’s been a sharp rise in pupils sent home from school in England because of COVID-19, according to the latest official figures . More than 375,000 pupils - about one in 20 - were out of school for COVID-related reasons, up by more than 130,000 in a week. Absences have quadrupled during June.
The government’s signalled that it may move to increase COVID testing for schools and colleges in September, rather than sending whole ‘bubbles’ of pupils home.
The Department for Education figures show this was the highest number of COVID-related absences since the return to school in March.
15,000 pupils at home who are confirmed COVID cases
24,000 suspected cases
279,000 self-isolating due to potential contact in school
57,000 self-isolating due to potential contact in the community
5.1% of pupils absent, up from 1.2% on 10 June.
A number of unions have issued a joint statement and have asked the government to reinstate face coverings to limit the spread of the virus.
Ofsted inspections will look at how schools and colleges prevent sexual harassment
Ofsted has updated its handbooks to clarify how inspectors will assess schools and colleges’ approach to sexual harassment, abuse and violence among young people.
This follows its recent
review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges, which found that sexual harassment has become ‘normalised’ for children and young people.
The changes to the handbooks will take effect when routine inspections resume in September. Inspectors will expect schools and college leaders to have put in place a whole-school approach to address sexual harassment. They will also consider how schools and colleges handle allegations and incidents of sexual abuse between children and young people when they do occur.
Roadmap delayed: government asks employees to work from home if they can for another four weeks
The Prime Minister announced that 'step 4' of his government's roadmap out of lockdown would be delayed by four weeks.
This is due to concerns about the spread of the Delta variant and the need to vaccinate more groups of adults.
Government advice which tells people to 'work from home if you can' is likely to apply until Monday 19 July at the earliest. The government will review the position on or before Monday 5 July
The government has updated its
guidance to reflect the new date. It says that 'employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working'.
If your staff can't work from home (which will apply to most teachers and teaching assistants) you must continue to take steps to make your workplaces COVID-19 secure and help employees avoid busy times and routes on public transport. The guidance also encourages you to continue to consider 'higher risk' employees, such as those who were previously required to shield. We explained the options open to you
Chancellor refuses to extend furlough
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that he won’t extend the furlough scheme beyond Thursday 30 September this year, despite the delay to the lifting of the remaining lockdown sanctions.
Right to work checks – government updates guidance
The Home Office has published updated
guidance for employers carrying out right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic. It extends the concession permitting employers to carry out a manual right to work check using video conferencing and copies of supporting documents to 31 August 2021 (previously 20 June 2021).
This aligns with the government's decision to delay the relaxation of lockdown measures until at least 19 July 2021.
Only 12% of employers are aware of T levels
Only 12% of employers have a good understanding of T levels according to research published by Ofqual, in its annual Perceptions of Vocational and Technical Qualifications in England survey . More than 60% of employers said they either had ‘no understanding at all’ or ‘not very good understanding’ of the new technical qualifications.
T levels were introduced in September 2020 and are equivalent to three A levels. They offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on the job’ experience. The government has described the new qualifications as “gold standard”.
Acas releases findings of its fire and rehire practices exercise
Acas has issued a
statement on the issue of, so called, ‘fire and rehire’ practices.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) asked Acas to carry out an evidence gathering exercise to learn more about practices used to push through changes to terms and conditions of employment. Acas took evidence from a wide range of organisations.
It will now produce further guidance that ‘encourages good workplace practices when negotiating changes to staff contracts’.
Government will introduce a single labour market enforcement body
The BEIS has confirmed that, despite delays, it will introduce a new single labour market enforcement body. It will need to introduce primary legislation to do this.
The new body will:
Combine the existing Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Enforcement
Introduce a single regulatory body for tackling modern slavery, national minimum wage breaches and ensuring vulnerable workers get the statutory holiday and SSP to which they are entitled
Ensure both employees and businesses know where to find help on workers’ rights and provide guidance on best practice
Take action against businesses that fail to address abuses in their supply chains.
In the meantime, the
government response outlines how BEIS will continue to work with stakeholders and enforcement bodies to trial new approaches in support of the transition.
New bill on employment status
This Private Members’ Bill, sponsored by Labour peer Lord Hendy, seeks to create a single status for workers by amending the meaning of ‘employee’, ‘worker’ and related expressions in the
Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, the Employment Rights Act 1996 and other legislation.
The first reading took place on 26 May 2021 in the House of Lords.
Most Private Member’s Bills aren’t adopted unless they have the support of government.
Read more – July 2021
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