Staffing update for Friday, 6th November 2020
Why we are where we are!
I am writing because we will still be able to open tomorrow to all year groups - our staffing situation has held.
I am going to take this opportunity to pause for a moment and explain why we are in the situation that we are.
Here is how schools up and down the country operate on a daily basis.
On any one day, there is a certain amount of surplus that exists for a school where staff can step in and cover lessons for absent colleagues. That surplus changes on a daily basis over a two-week timetable.
We can bring in supply teachers - some are fantastic, some are not. Sometimes we can get a Languages supply teacher for a Languages lesson, sometimes we can only get a generic supply teacher which means that students are supervised, but not supported in the normal way.
If you run teams of supply teachers, students can go from supply lesson to supply lesson and then behaviour can deteriorate because the relationship that normally exists with their normal class teacher isn’t there.
When staff (not just teachers) are absent, colleagues step in to cover duty points before school, at break, at lunch and after school for student safety. Why safety? If you have 630 students on site at break time, but only 1 member of staff to supervise a playground and a student falls over, or has an argument, or other normal teenager type things that occur, that’s a safety issue. If you don’t have enough staff to cover all the duty points, it’s a safety issue.
Our staffing absence levels have been over twenty for much of this week, which is why we had to ask year groups to remain at home.
Other Stockport schools
I met with all the other Stockport Secondary Headteachers this morning on a Zoom call, and we are all facing similar situations but different circumstances. Some schools have had almost no cases amongst the staff - but have had much higher infection rates amongst students. Some have faced similar situations to ours. We are all in the same boat.
So, we can open tomorrow! We might not be able to on Monday. We might be able to. We are only able to plan about 48 hours in advance, and sometimes only 24 hours in advance as people develop symptoms and have to self-isolate.
Guidance from the government came out last night after 8pm to say that staff with certain medical conditions have to shield until 2nd December from today - so we have already had to send two more staff home for four weeks and some more may yet have to shield.
If you get a letter that says we are closed to a year group - we will have considered all options, looked at staffing absence levels and made a judgement call about safety in the first instance. I know how frustrating it is - my own children all had to spend time in self-isolation last half term and as my wife is also a teacher, she and I had to juggle half days in work here and there so we could do our jobs and look after young children who were self-isolating - and sometimes with barely any notice just like you.
If I have to write to you tomorrow and say that we are closed to a year group on Monday, or Tuesday, or longer - I sincerely apologise, but it may be the only course of action left open to us whilst keeping the site safe. We will try to make sure the closures are as fair as they can be.
Yours in Christ