Primary school announces it will not reopen on Monday after 16 teachers hand in letters

A total of 16 staff at a Leeds primary school have handed in letters to the headteacher "exercising their right not to teach" - with an announcement that the school will remain closed sent to parents on Sunday.

Sunday, 3rd January 2021, 4:58 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd January 2021, 5:06 pm

Gildersome Primary School alerted parents to a letter sent out from headteacher Caroline Hoyle on Sunday.

The school posted on Facebook: "All parents have been emailed a letter today with regard to the opening of school tomorrow. Please ensure you check your emails as a matter of urgency."

Mrs Hoyle, headteacher of the school, said in the letter that she had "received an email signed from 16 staff, the majority of staff whom are teachers stating that they are exercising their right not to teach full classes as from tomorrow".

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Gildersome Primary School alerted parents to a letter sent out from headteacher Caroline Hoyle on Sunday.

The letter from staff said attending the school would "present a serious and imminent danger" to their health and safety.

The letter in full sent to the headteacher by the staff reads: "(As the Head Teacher, I) have legal duties to protect the health, safety and welfare of staff and pupils.

"Those duties arise under the following legislation: - • Sections 2 and 3 of the Health & Safety Act 1974 • Regulations 3 and 8 of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 • Regulation 4 of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 • Regulation 4 of the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 • Regulation 7 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

"The most recent advice from SAGE is that schools should not open in January1 other than for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

"This is because the scientific advice is that it is not safe for schools to open. There are new variants of Covid-19 that are highly infectious and infection rates have increased significantly since schools closed.

"We appreciate that measures have been in place since September to allow the school to open but according to SAGE those measures may no longer be sufficient.

"They state in their most recent report: - The introduction of Tier 4 measures in England combined with the school holidays will be informative of the strength of measures required to control the new variant but analysis of this will not be possible until midJanuary.

"Based on the above we do not believe that it is safe for us to return to teaching full classes at Gildersome Primary School. If we do attend Gildersome Primary School we believe that this will present a serious and imminent danger to our health and safety. We are therefore writing to inform you that we are exercising our contractual right not to attend an unsafe place of work."

The school will now remain closed on Monday.

Mrs Hoyle said "staff have said that they want the children back in school as soon as possible but feel that at the present time, this is their only option".

She said in the letter: "I have held a meeting with the Chair (Mr Martin Kisby) and the Vice Chair (Mr David Tobin) of the school’s Governing body this morning and as a result of this difficult situation, we have had to take some quick and decisive action. The local authority are also aware of the steps we are taking.

"Gildersome Primary School will not open to any pupils on Monday 4th January.

"This will now be a training day instead of the previously planned date on Thursday 11th February, 2021. The day will be used to identify essential worker and vulnerable children in other classes and to communicate with the parents of those children that a place has been allocated full time at school as from 5 th January, 2021.

"Children who are not allocated a place at school will not be allowed to attend school and will have to learn remotely from Tuesday 5th January, 2021 until further notice.

"As I write this letter, I know that this will cause anxieties, strains and potential financial losses to families and I cannot apologise enough for this and for the late notice.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I am left with no alternative at the present time than to carry out the above actions.

"I will keep you informed as and when I know more and I will be liaising with the local authority to find a way forward. I understand that you may have lots of questions - please direct them to the school as opposed to through other media at the present time.

"Thank you for your support at this very difficult time and I hope we can return to normal arrangements as soon as possible."