Agenda item - Member Involvement

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Agenda item

Member Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by Councillors:

 

(a)           Petitions: to receive any petitions submitted to the full Council or at the meeting itself;

 

(b)           Written Questions: to consider any written questions;

 

(c)           Letters: to consider any letters;

 

(i)             Cllr Allcock – School Staff

 

(d)           Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Council or submitted directly to the Committee.

Minutes:

74 (a) Petitions

 

74.1    There were none

 

74 (b) Written Questions

 

74.2    There were none

 

74 (c) Letters

 

74.3    Councillor Allcock presented his letter which said:

 

On the 22nd January you and Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty issued a council corporate briefing stating that at Policy & Resources Committee on 21st January, councillors voted to award all council staff a special “Thank You Day”, an additional day of leave to be taken in the 2021/2022 business year – April 2021 to the end of March 2022. This was a way of showing appreciation and recognition for the ‘care and compassion, dedication to the city and excellent public service to their colleagues, councillors and the communities we serve’.

 

In para 3.13 of the report to Policy and Resources Committee on 21st January officers reported that:

A key consideration has been the potential impact on schools, where annual leave arrangements are different from those applying to non-school staff. Additional leave is harder to accommodate, and also likely to be less impactful. Feedback from the Schools Block Working Group (a representative group of Headteachers) confirmed that individual governing bodies would be determining appropriately how to thank staff in schools and using their delegated authority they will determine how to recognise the work of their staff.

 

Following the announcement of the decision to award the Thank You Day to Council staff, trade unions received a significant number of queries from staff in schools who were upset and disappointed that they are not being treated the same as the rest of the Council’s workforce and asking why. I believe there is no contractual or statutory reason why an additional day off could not be granted and that this is at the discretion of the school/governing body. I understand that there are operational issues about how this could be managed in a school environment, but that there are definitely ways that the Thank You Day for both teachers and support staff could be realised during the 21/22 financial year. The impact of Covid-19 on our city’s economy has been profound. We know how tough this time has been for many in our community. We have learnt how much we desperately need good public services. We understand how important it is to value our Public Sector staff including teachers and others who work in schools that have remained open to the children of critical workers and vulnerable children, and also shown dedication and innovation in supporting families with home-schooling and remote learning.

I am calling on Councillor Clare as Chair of the Children and Young People and Skills Committee and the Leader of the Council to:

-       Strongly advise Headteachers and Governing bodies to identify a consistent approach across schools to provide the opportunity for all their staff to take the Thank You Day at an appropriate time during the next financial year, offering council officer support in achieving this if required.

-       Issue a public statement on behalf of the Council thanking all school staff and governing bodies for their incredible work during the pandemic and confirming that it is the council’s advice that all school staff be granted the Thank You Day to show appreciation and recognition for their commitment.

 

74.4    The Chair gave the following response:

 

Thank you for your letter. I understand the concerns raised regarding the thank you day and how the policy & resources report, which you will remember as a member of the committee, referred only to directly employed staff. I know that this has caused some upset – and I wanted to reiterate that the council has apologised to headteachers for how the matter has been handled. We are now in a productive place of working together on a solution. As a result, the asks of your letter are not something that would be helpful to pursue at this juncture.

 

Officers in our education and skills team are currently in the process of discussing with Headteacher representative groups and offering advice as they consider if and how schools might be able to accommodate the ask from Trade Unions and, if possible, have a consistent approach. The issue is complex as schools have to ensure provision during term time and staff do not usually have the ability to take time out during term time for this reason. In addition to this, schools across the city are a wide range of complex organisations with different circumstances and issues which is why individual schools have the delegated authority to make this decision for their staff and recognise their own individual circumstances.  

 

We know that schools also already recognise and reward their staff in a range of ways in line with their operational requirements.  For this reason, it would be inappropriate for the local authority to strongly advise or recommend a course of action in this case when we could not appropriately consider and reflect on the issues affecting each individual school. We of course want to continue to thank and recognise the work and commitment of all staff and governors in schools during this pandemic. They have navigated many challenges and despite this continue to provide high-quality education to our city’s young people. 

 

We will continue to explore how our schools can accommodate a thank you day with them in a consistent way. 

 

74.5    RESOLVED: That the letter be noted.

 

74 (d) Notices of Motion

 

74.6    There were none.

 

Supporting documents:

 


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