I am sure that many, and I suspect most, of the schools that closed on Wednesday could have stayed at least partially opened in their headmaster or headmistress had wanted them to. That must have been a source of frustration for many dedicsated teachers in such schools where there was such an abdication of leadership.
But there will be other examples where schools closed despite the wishes of its head. Reading Toby Young's column (£) in The Spectator this week it seems the Government could do something about it.
I was shocked to discover the extent to which the law favours the unions. For instance, any employment agency providing temporary workers to cover for striking teachers would be committing a criminal offence — and if the school tried to enlist the help of such an agency we could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting.
We have some wiggle room when it comes to getting existing members of staff to cover for their striking colleagues, but that isn’t practical in our case because we have only eight full-time members of staff and they’re worked off their feet as it is. Local authority-run schools, by contrast, don’t have this latitude because they’re bound by the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document — a set of terms drawn up by the teaching unions which prevent non-striking teachers from covering for their colleagues.
Schools can ask volunteers to cover, but they have to be CRB-checked — and not just any old CRB-check will do. It has to be site specific. That means the pool of potential volunteers is limited to parents who already help out and members of the board of governors.
These rules must change. It really is no use the Government urging heads to keep schools open when at the same time imposing restrictions on them, which deny them the flexibility to achieve this desirable objective.