The Local Government finance circular, containing the provisional funding allocations to each local authority arising from the draft budget, has now been published and is attached for your information. UNISON Scotland will need to step up our Plug The Gap campaign in the next few weeks if we are to maximize the opportunity to influence the inter-party discussions that will be taking place before the second and third readings of the budget in parliament.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer gave an update on current issues. Whilst he said they are pleased that the number of new cases is now reducing, and the ‘R’ number is now below 1, there remains significant pressure on the NHS.
The Deputy DMO referred to the announcement of the new measures to tackle the virus and the advisory group guidance on the phased return of in-person learning in schools. He said that they are continuing to learn about the virus and are trying to balance a number of issues at the moment – in relation to schools the balance is between ensuring the health and well-being of children, which is being impacted by being out of school, and the risks associated with bringing people back to schools.
He said that the transmission rates in and between different age groups was being closely examined but they are confident that the rate of transmission from young people to adults is lower than adult to adult transmission. We raised concern that whilst that may be the case the very fact that people will be brought back to schools will lead to more people travelling to them on public transport, more people congregating around school gates etc which could increase transmission and is a significant concern of our members. He understood that concern and said that’s why they are not moving to bring all pupils back at the same time. He stated that transmission rates will be ‘reviewed forensically’ to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken.
UNISON raised concerns about communication and messaging and cited the results of the survey that our EIG colleagues recently completed which clearly show how worried our education members are for their safety. He took this on board and COSLA are also looking at how this can improved.
We also raised with COSLA an issue that has arisen in a couple of areas regarding the calculation of average pay for casual workers under the SJC Circular and the different method of calculation under the furlough scheme. They will come back to us on this and I’ll report back when I have any further information.
- New measures to tackle the virus
- On school testing – they have put together a brief fact sheet on the schools/ELC testing programme which I have attached for your information. Also attached are the instructions for use that participants will be provided with when collecting test kits from schools.
- On vaccinations – I attach a copy of the letter outlining the vaccination provision for staff working with children with additional support needs.
- APSE State of the Market Survey – Local Authority Sports & Leisure Services
- I have attached APSE’s state of the market survey which focuses on Local Authority Sports and Leisure services which I thought might be of interest.
- Today is Time To Talk day!
- This is a day that mental health charities encourage people to pick up the phone and talk to others. As the pandemic continues and more of our members are experiencing pressure, stress and loneliness please encourage them to reach out and talk. You can find tips and resources to help on the Time for Change website here.
- Every Life Matters – Review and Action Plan
- The report of the first two years of Every Life Matters – the national suicide prevention strategy – has been published. The action plan in it contains a number of actions for local authorities and COSLA so thought it worth sharing
- See below for all attachments
As you may have hears the Scottish Government has announced the partial reopening of schools and ELC
Below is from the BBC
Scotland’s youngest pupils are likely to return to the classroom full time from 22 February as schools start a phased reopening.
The move will include all pupils in P1-P3 as well as pre-school children.
There will also be a part-time return, but on a very limited basis, for senior secondary pupils to allow them to complete work for national qualifications.
A final decision will be taken on the partial reopening in a fortnight.
Attached is a copy of our recent survey of members and below a copy of our media release in response to the announcement.
These vital services are currently being delivered to many children and UNISON members have worked hard at creating environments safe for children and staff. It will help no one if further opening up of schools and nurseries brings a greater risk of infection. Councils and Scottish Government need to be making sure that the measures in the jointly developed guidelines are delivered on the ground.
Lorraine Thomson, Chair of UNISON Scotland Education Issues Group said
“Employers must ensure that risk assessments are taking place, that staff are aware of these assessments and are trained so that they can work safely. Proper implementation of appropriate mitigations is the only way to keep staff, children and the wider community safe.
UNISON reps have been working throughout the pandemic supporting members in education. Ensuring that their health and safety is a priority. Members who see that guidelines are not being followed should contact their branch to ensure that appropriate action can be taken.”