I would like to pay tribute to all teachers, other staff, and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make school buildings as safe as possible during the pandemic. COVID-19 has put our schools under immense pressure, and I am grateful to all those who have helped children’s education continue over the last year.
As you will know, schools have unfortunately been required to close as part of the new national lockdown, in order to get the new, more easily transmissible strain of the virus under control. However, schools remain open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, and the Government is determined to reopen schools for other pupils as a priority, once it is safe to do so. Therefore, the duties you mention are still of great importance.
The Government has made an extra £1.4 billion available to schools this year, in order to help with additional costs associated with the pandemic. Moreover, guidance has been produced for schools setting out the options available to manage staffing capacity, including using existing staff more flexibly, or using supply or temporary teachers, as well as making use of volunteers. Where schools hire agency workers, the Department for Education has also recommended that they consider using its and the Crown Commercial Service’s agency supply deal, as this offers a list of preferred suppliers that must be transparent about the rates they charge.