Open letter to the NEU

We have written to the National Education Union to ask that they stand shoulder to shoulder with parents in our demand for a sensible, safe and sustainable plan for schools.

BRTUS: Parents United

Unit 49070,

PO Box 4336,

Manchester,

M61 0BW

2nd October 2020

Dear Kevin Courtney and Dr Mary Bousted

We are BRTUS: Parents United – a 12,500 member strong campaign group. We are the largest parent-led campaign in Britain urging for a sensible, safe and sustainable approach to school-based education during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Broadly, our aim is to prioritise the safety of children and school staff and to curtail the spread of COVID-19 by collectively pushing for a safe, well-planned and a transparently communicated approach to schooling – with full consideration of the long-term consequences for their health and that of the public.

Our children don’t have a union and they don’t have formal representation but what they do have is us, and we have the tenacity and willingness to fight for what is right. For too long the voices of parents and children have been ignored in the challenges surrounding the safety of schools during the on-going pandemic. We empower parents, arm them with knowledge and amplify their voices.

We are acutely aware that many of the parents we support are also the very people who are facing increased risks in the workplace; our nation’s school staff – your members.

Our campaign has three main elements:

  1. Mounting a legal challenge opposing punitive fines for absence during the pandemic – As part of this, we have already delivered to the Prime Minister a letter signed by thousands of supporters, as well as a Change.org petition with over 114,000 signatories.
  2. Proposing a traffic light system which comprises reduced class sizes, increased school funding and the introduction of blended learning – The pressure we applied on this front, across social, print and broadcast media, caused the government to introduce its “four-tier” system (although we are waiting for it to be enacted).
  3. Collectively supporting parents whose children are unable to attend school (for a variety of reasons) – So far we have established Ed2; a resources hub for parents who find themselves in the role of educator, however temporarily.

We agree with the NEU that school staff’s “safety, that of [the] students, their families and society as a whole, must be our priority” and that “the Government needs to take more action to keep our schools as safe as possible.”

Furthermore, we support you in your latest package of demands:

  1. Improved testing available for school communities
  2. Smaller class sizes
  3. Guarantees that vulnerable staff can work from home
  4. Increases in school funding
  5. A Public Health review of all school outbreaks

The Government’s current sticking plaster approach to education is rapidly losing its adhesive and the gaping wound that is our chronically underfunded education system is being exposed. Parents are being lied to and bullied, school staff are at breaking point and ultimately it’s our children who are bearing the brunt of the Government’s inadequacies.

BRTUS: Parents United and the NEU want the same outcomes: safety and sustainability. We must now unite in our common struggle.

We invite you to meet with us to forge a way forward, together.

BRTUS: Parents United.