Council bosses in Michael Gove’s own constituency have placed themselves at odds with the education secretary over suggestions that parents should help to break tomorrow’s pension strike by teaching unions, Scrapbook can reveal. Surrey County Council, in which lies Mr Gove’s constituency of Surrey Heath, have warned headteachers not to allow parents or other volunteers to prevent school closures:
“The use of volunteers (such as governors or parents, brought in specifically to help maintain staffing levels in the school) is best avoided.”
In guidance issued by senior officials, heads and school governors are advised to balance their duty to provide education with the need to “engender goodwill amongst remaining staff, particularly bearing in mind that they may be supportive of the industrial action even if they are not a direct party to it.”
And Surrey is not alone. Local authorities up and down the country have told this blog that they will not be encouraging the practice. Sheffield City Council claimed they could see “major problems” with the idea, not least of which were concerns over the safety of children under the care of untrained staff without CRB checks.
Of the councils contacted, none were aware of any schools open to parental scabbing. Even Kent County Council, where local MP Tracy Crouch proudly announced she would abandon her responsibilities in the Commons to score points against teachers, couldn’t name a single school where she’d be welcome.
It appears that Gove is handling this crisis with the same ineptitude as the rest of his portfolio.