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Information about school staff and their employment during the coronavirus pandemic.

First published:
24 March 2020
Last updated:

What advice is available for temporary teaching staff employed by an LA or school, and for those employed via supply agencies?

Supply staff can either be employed by LAs, supply agencies or directly by schools, and it is advised that temporary staff check the terms of their contract with their employer. This includes seeking clarity on whether they are entitled to SSP. The type of support available will depend on employment status and individual circumstances. If supply staff are unsure of their employment status, further information is available.

If supply staff are employed by a local authority or school on short-term, flexible, day to day, casual or zero-hours contracts, where possible local authorities/schools should look to redeploy those staff to support the Covid-19 response. Whilst local authorities and schools are best placed to make decisions relating to the employment and deployment of school staff in their areas, there is an expectation that all categories of worker, including casual and zero hours workers, should be treated consistently with other employees in terms of pay even if they are unable to perform work for the employer, e.g. during school closures. The WLGA has issued advice to local authorities, which includes how average pay could be calculated for supply staff who work directly for local authorities or schools on day-to-day or ad-hoc bookings, and who are unable to work due to school closures.

Where schools or local authorities had expected to use their public funding to engage such workers and had budgeted for this, but work is no longer needed due to Covid-19, we encourage local authorities and schools to follow the approach for casual workers set out in paragraph 20 of the Procurement Policy Note 02/20 on contingent workers impacted by Covid-19. This will ensure that workers employed directly by local authorities or schools have access to the same levels of support as casual agency workers during this time.

Local authorities or schools should consider paying the worker at 80% of their typical pay, in a similar way to agency workers who were not on live assignments when schools closed. The 80% could be calculated by conducting a retrospective review of the previous 12 weeks (or as many weeks as the worker has been on assignment) to determine the average days or hours worked. This average should be used to underpin the calculation of 80% of gross pay for the worker (up to a £2,500 monthly cap to align treatment of casual direct hire workers with casual agency workers). The total amount payable should be limited to the amount the school or local authority had originally budgeted or anticipated for such workers. Supply staff should contact their employer (either the LA or school) to discuss what arrangements are in place.

Those employed by the LA or school on a long-term contract are entitled to the same terms and conditions as permanent staff and should be paid accordingly.

Staff employed via an agency will have a contract with that agency, and should discuss their terms with them. Schools who meet their supply teacher needs via agency staff are encouraged to use agencies who have met the requirements of the National Procurement Service’s (NPS) Supply Teachers’ Framework for Wales. Framework agencies are required to register with a representative professional recruitment body and to sign up to the Welsh Government’s Code of Practice on Ethical Employment in Supply Chains and our Fair Work principles.

Whilst education policy is devolved to Wales, employment law is not and therefore advice on this issue is determined by the UK Government. This includes advice for supply agencies who may have queries regarding support for their businesses.

The UK Government has now made an announcement outlining additional financial support for employers under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This scheme allows employers (including agencies) to furlough PAYE workers for up to three months and to claim 80% of salary costs. The scheme is open to all UK employers with PAYE employees on payroll as at 28 February 2020. Agency supply staff should discuss this scheme with their agency.

What financial support am I entitled to if I am a temporary worker and am not currently employed?

Currently, if someone is affected by COVID-19 directly or indirectly and unable to work, and has paid enough National Insurance over the last 2 years, then they can claim New Style ESA which is not means tested.

If someone is unsure about whether they have paid enough contributions through employment to claim New Style ESA they are advised to claim both New Style ESA and Universal Credit at the same time. This means that if they do not qualify for New Style ESA they will not have delayed a claim to Universal Credit and missed out on any entitlement days. If someone has not paid enough national insurance to claim ESA then they will need to claim Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is claimed online. The UK Government is currently looking at Universal Credit and therefore this advice may change.

Are teachers and practitioners expected to go to school if they are not at risk but have a dependent who is? Will they still be paid and able to work from home?

If teachers or other staff members have caring responsibilities/dependents and are unable to go to work, they should speak with their employer and agree reasonable arrangements for homeworking. Teachers unable to attend work will be paid as normal.

Any member of staff who falls into the shielding category should not be expected to work in either a school or hub.

Where a member of staff lives with someone who is vulnerable, we would expect employers to take account of this. In doing so, they should consider the severity of the individual case and the expected levels of attendance.

Are teachers and support staff to be tested as they are frontline staff?

Information relating to testing of critical workers is available is available at the following links,  and will be updated regularly: 

For all staff, social distancing, thorough handwashing using soap and water, and frequent cleaning and disinfection of hand contact surfaces are the best course of action.

Our wider Test Trace Protect strategy was published on 13 May.

Will students on Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses be able to complete them?

We have issued guidance to ITE providers who currently have students undertaking school placements. The guidance will advise ITE providers to cease schools placements with effect from this week in order to minimise the risk to students and to schools.  

In order to ensure that the current cohort of ITE students are able to complete their courses the Welsh Government have advised ITE providers that they have the discretion to make an assessment of their students’ suitability for the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) based on their periods of placement completed at this point in time. 

When providers make this discretionary judgement then they will be required to issue individual learning plans to students setting out requirements for any areas that they have been unable to complete.  Students would be required to undertake learning in these areas during their induction period and provide the relevant evidence to their induction provider in order to gain fully qualified status.

Any academic teaching that remains to be completed in this school year will be undertaken remotely through digital channels. This will enable the existing cohort to graduate and achieve QTS and enter induction in September.

Will Newly Qualified Teachers be able to continue to complete their statutory induction period while schools are closed?

We recognise that newly qualified teachers in Wales will understandably be anxious about the potential impact of Covid-19 on their statutory induction. We have worked with EWC, regional consortia and local authorities to develop revised guidance for NQTs and everyone involved in induction to follow whilst schools are closed.

What are you doing to reduce the burden on headteachers and schools in this unprecedented situation?

For a temporary period, schools have a new purpose. We will therefore be removing or relaxing requirements on schools which would be in place in normal circumstances. We will continue to keep this under review.

Estyn halted its inspection arrangements as of Monday 16 March, and we intend to temporarily relax requirements to undertake national tests and assessments and to report the outcomes, and requirements to undertake moderation. 

We intend to temporarily relax requirements to undertake national tests and assessments and to report the outcomes, as well as requirements to undertake moderation.

We have cancelled all statutory data collections that would have been due to take place before the school summer holidays and have not yet started. Normal arrangements for reporting of Key Stage 4 and post-16 performance measures will be suspended for this year and we are also actively considering the associated arrangements and statutory requirements that depend on the availability of data.

Will Welsh Government still be expecting statutory data collection returns from schools?

We will not expect returns for all statutory data collections that would have been due to take place before the school summer holidays and have not yet started. This includes:

  • Attendance: Primary 2020 data collection;
  • Attendance: Secondary 2020 data collection;
  • National Data Collection (NDC) 2020 data collection
  • Welsh National Tests (WNT) 2020 data collection

Should statutory performance management arrangements for headteachers and teachers continue during this period?

We recognise that teachers and headteachers in Wales will understandably be anxious about the potential impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on performance management arrangements.

Performance Management is a continuing process that takes place over a year, involving three stages of planning, monitoring performance and reviewing performance. It focuses attention on making teaching and leadership more effective to benefit learners, teachers, and schools.

The School Performance Management Policy is the written policy setting out how performance management in the school will be implemented as required by the School Teacher Appraisal (Wales) Regulations 2011.

The current guidance can be found on Hwb.

Undertaking performance management during the COVID-19 pandemic

Schools should continue to implement their performance management arrangements during this current situation, particularly as this will enable teachers to discuss the development and support required in the next academic year, which could help the school as they forward plan.

In addition, the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions (Wales) Document (STPCD) includes the requirement to ensure that all pay progression for teachers is linked to performance management. Therefore, it is important to ensure that performance management is undertaken during this period, to avoid any possible impact on pay progression.

However, we would expect schools to use their discretion and take pragmatic steps, to consider adapting their School Performance Management Policy, in line with the Regulations, to take account of the current circumstances. For example, schools could consider whether some objectives are suspended or postponed.

Schools must ensure that teachers are not penalised during the appraisal process or in respect of any subsequent pay progression decisions as a result of partial school closures, where this has impacted on the ability of the teacher to meet fully their objectives.

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