Teachers 'hijacking Covid' to push through pay rise as they hail pandemic as 'turning point'

BRITAIN'S largest teaching union has been accused of "hijacking" the Covid pandemic to secure a pay rise.

Leaders of the National Education Union (NEU) claimed the crisis was a "turning point" as the union pushes for "key demands", it's reported.

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Pay demands are included in the union's list, The Telegraph reports.

Union bosses have also reportedly called for reductions in class sizes to be "long term".

Last month, leaders congratulated members for closing schools, insisting their threats to not attend classrooms – not scientific data – led to Boris Johnson telling students to stay at home.

But MPs claim the union is capitalising on school closures and "playing politics".


The NEU has previously set out a list of demands it says must be met before it is safe to return to the classroom.

But a recent Covid bulletin entitled "key demands for all workplaces" included issues beyond health and safety, The Telegraph reports.

The demands were risk assessments, an end to work assessments during the pandemic, more time to plan and assess students' work, and an agreed pay progression.

Officials were told to "secure a commitment to automatic pay progression at the end of this academic year."

The NEU demands have been about keeping schools closed, it has always been ­'computer says no

And to "where possible, win a commitment for this policy to be permanent".

But Tim Loughton, former minister for children and families, insisted a long-term demand for pay rises shouldn't be included.

The Conservative MP said: "The NEU demands have been about keeping schools closed, it has always been ­'computer says no'.

"The missing ­element in all their activities has been the ­welfare of children.

"They should not try to hijack the pandemic to promote demands for pay and conditions."

Following last month's row over primary schools reopening, NEU general secretary Kevin Courtney "congratulated" members.

Members were told teachers who wrote letters citing employment laws as a reason for staying away from schools were the reason for them not opening.

Joint secretary Dr Mary Bousted said that "for too long teachers and support staff have not had a voice".

She added: "The creeping authoritarianism from government has also crept into too many schools.

"This pandemic has loosened the chain of authority from government through Ofsted to schools.

"You have the opportunity to change your working lives, to get back some agency and to get that proper authority over your professional knowledge, concerns and issues."

Executive memberChris Denson said the action "wasn't just a moment, but it's a turning point".

Another executive member, Venda Premkumar said: "We have got to capitalise on that, we have got to take that forward, there is no going back to what it was pre-pandemic."

This month, Kevin Courtney, joint General Secretary of the NEU, hit back at claims the union was trying to keep schools closed.

He said: “The NEU absolutely agrees with the Prime Minister that the wider reopening of schools when the scientific evidence shows it is safe to do so is a national priority. Let's treat it as such.

“We have to learn the lessons from the past year when many children and young people missed out needlessly on classroom education due to a lack of sensible safety measures.

“The NEU's Recovery Plan is about keeping schools open. 

“It is ludicrous to suggest after the lessons learnt last year that additional straightforward safety measures are not put in place to keep transmission rates down and to assist keeping the school gates open."

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