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Wwyd - TA with own childcare issue
19

ladyfordington · 21/03/2020 13:05

I'm a TA in a primary school within a MAT. Our household is currently self-isolating, so I've not been in school this week and consequently have been a bit out of the loop with communications.

However, I've been told by my head that I'm a key worker and need to be in work once isolation period is over. All schools within the Trust are open, all staff working normal hours.

My husband is not a keyworker but doesn't have a job that could possibly allow for WFH. Firstly it's a practical job that requires his presence, secondly his current place of work is a couple of hours away from our home.

My children are 8, 11 and 13 - 13yo has ASD and a physical disability. They all attend schools within the MAT I work for. However, the Trust has said it is NOT allocating key worker places in its schools for staff, nor can they bring their own children to work with them.

I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. If my DH was to come home and care for the children, it would be unpaid. If he stays at home unpaid from now until potentially July/August, he would lose the equivalent of 2 years of my TA salary. My wage would only cover a fraction of the household bills.

I am willing to work but the Trust is being so unbending - their stance is that DH stays home, end of.

I'm waiting to my head to call me to discuss further, but I don't know what to do. Am I being unreasonable to ask for unpaid leave? I've even considered handing in my notice but is that even worse???

Sorry this is so long, I've just worried about this for the last few days.

Any suggestions welcome...

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ElizabethMainwaring · 21/03/2020 13:24

Hi op. Sorry if I'm being a bit thick.
So you are classed as a key worker, but the kids haven't got places at their schools?
If this is the case, then it can't possibly be right! Are you in a union? Also, does your eldest have an EHCP? All the best.

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notchickenagain · 21/03/2020 13:31

Surely they mean they are not allowing staff children into the MAT if they don't normally have a place there? You are a keyworker therefore your children go to their school as normal if necessary regardless of where that is.

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notchickenagain · 21/03/2020 13:33

Were you told this when we all thought both parents had to be keyworkers? Now only one of you has to be

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ladyfordington · 21/03/2020 13:37

My children attend schools within the same trust I work for. And the Trust have so far said that staff members can't take up places for their own children. (Even though they actually do attend those schools!)

I also asked if they can't have an 'official' keyworker place in their school, can I just taken them to my school with me but that has been refused too.

Eldest dc does have an EHCP, so I asked for her to be able to attend her own school - this will be allowed but her school was very much pushing for her to stay at home. If necessary I will have use it, but it still leaves me with the younger children to consider.

Not in a union, no.

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noblegiraffe · 21/03/2020 13:40

Ask your head if they count supermarket workers as key workers (which they should, they are on the list).

Then quit your job, take one of the many jobs in a supermarket, your kids get to go to school and the school loses a TA.

The school may change its mind when it realises that it’s being ducking ridiculous.

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ElizabethMainwaring · 21/03/2020 13:41

Bloody hell! That's ridiculous. I'd contact a union regardless. Although it will be impossible to get through.
I think that they are giving you no other option than to resign. It's an impossible situation.

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ladyfordington · 21/03/2020 13:42

Yes, I was initially told this when we thought both parents had to be a keyworker, however my last communication was an email yesterday and they were still sticking to their original advice. I'm still waiting for someone to return my call so I can talk to them properly.

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ElizabethMainwaring · 21/03/2020 13:44

Contact HR at the MAT.
The two schools are giving conflicting messages.

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teaandajammydodger · 21/03/2020 13:46

The childcare should only be used as a last resort. Does you school even need you in working?

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cansu · 21/03/2020 13:48

That is completely ridiculous.
How about doing the following. Most ridiculous policies are reconsidered when you approach formally and in writing.

Write to each child's school confirming that according to the government's own guidance you are a key worker and as such are entitled to a place for your children.

If they refuse, contact your MP / LA / Union and ask for advice. I would also put in the letter or email that a refusal to provide the place is preventing you as a key worker from working.

My school is doing the following:

  1. all school staff can bring their kids to work.
  2. we have a rota where we sign up for a certan number of sessions
  3. as someone with a disabled child, they have told me to do what I can and not to worry if I can't get in.
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Grasspigeons · 21/03/2020 13:49

What are you going in to do?
I know key worker children will be there but the government hinted that should be about 10% of the cohort. They dont need all staff on site at all times. They shouldnt be encouraging any more people into the building than absolutely need to be there. Many schools have set up a rota of staff so even if you are in the childcare issue is much less.

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hallamoo · 21/03/2020 13:54

Ask for unpaid leave.

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DoubleAction · 21/03/2020 13:56

You are a key worker and your children should have the place. Some schools are saying not if there is another parent who is not a key worker, that he should stay at home regardless of how inconvenient it is.

However, I think schools are going to have fewer children than they're predicting so this may well resolve itself. I also think some of the rules schools have made up will be challenged quite robustly by the DFE/LA if it means keyworkers can't work. It's been made very clear that schools have a responsibility here.

We have said staff with children should stay at home, in the interests of taking as many people out of circulation as possible.

That may change if absences keep increasing but for the time being it works.

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ladyfordington · 21/03/2020 13:57

Yes the message I got from DC1s school was very negative - 'absolute last resort, do everything you can to keep her home, we anticipate very few children should need to be here, usual SEN provision will not be in place'....

And I get all of that, I really do - but the same organisation is insisting I go in to my school to work with no room for compromise.

I would be happy to work if dc can be in their own schools, or sitting quietly in my school getting on with their distance learning. I'm happy to take unpaid leave and still do whatever I can from home to help out - I'm not trying to shirk my responsibility, but I do need to ensure the safety of my dc.

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nicknackpaddy · 21/03/2020 14:08

However, the Trust has said it is NOT allocating key worker places in its schools for staff

They are shooting themselves in the foot there then. If you don't need the money then I'd resign

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YoureAllABunchOfBastards · 21/03/2020 14:09

Your Trust is being ridiculous. We are expecting no more than five teachers/TAs to be on site at any one time, and will reduce further if we have to. No staff are expected to be in more than one day a fortnight with an additional day a fortnight as reserve. What are they expecting you to do that needs you to be in full time?

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GoldenKelpie · 21/03/2020 14:18

I am in Scotland.

Our council has identified a Hub school within each cluster and all pupils will attend this school on Monday if classified as vulnerable or with parents who are key workers if they have not got other childcare arrangements in place. Teaching staff (including nursery and support staff) come under this edict too.

At our after school meeting on Friday a couple of members of staff with younger children (nursery or P1 age) expressed concern that they would be expected to attend a strange school on Monday and foresaw problems. Another with a 13 year old was also concerned about how her child would react at having to attend a new school.

However, it has been made clear that the Hub school system is the only option on offer.OP, I am baffled that school staff are not included as Key Workers. I thought this was the case.

According the to Department of Education the key worker list includes... "Education and childcare
Nursery, teachers - including teaching assistants - and social workers".

Google it. Good luck.

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ladyfordington · 21/03/2020 14:24

I don't know what I'm going to be doing in school (I don't think anyone knows to be fair). They have anticipated a large percentage of pupils to still be in on Monday (keyworkers rather than vulnerable or EHCP pupils) and they've said our job roles will be 'changing daily'.

I don't know whether the trust plans to downscale things going forward and perhaps put rotas in place, they haven't communicated that at this stage.

I'll ring on Monday and ask again initially if I can have places for dc in school and if it's refused again, I'll ask for unpaid parental leave.

If all else fails, I'll resign. I'll feel utterly crap knowing I'm leaving my colleagues to do their bit whilst I'm not doing mine, but I can't see any other way.

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notchickenagain · 21/03/2020 14:32

You shouldn't mention taking unpaid leave, they'll just pocket your salary! It's not like the norm where if you had to take time off they would have to pay someone to replace you. Definitely talk to HR as government guidelines are seemingly taking a while to filter down to some schools.

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