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Coronavirus: how to plan your skeleton staffing structure
Organise your staff so you can be sure your school can stay open during coronavirus. Use our downloadable staffing plan to establish a rota and contingency in case of staff absence, and fill in our checklist each day so you know you've got the key tasks covered.
Figure out which staff you need
Keep the number of staff in school at the absolute minimum. If staff can work from home, they should.
When considering who you'll need in school, identify:
- What key roles you need every day:
- A member of your SLT
- Enough teachers and/or teaching assistants (see below)
- A first aider (note – if you have children aged between 2 and 5 on site, you need to take all possible steps to make sure a paediatric first aider is present)
- A DSL (or deputy DSL) who's available to come into school – though, if necessary, staff could just contact them via phone or internet (e.g. Skype) – the main thing is that they're available if needed (see page 95 here)
- A cleaner
- A cook
- How many teachers and/or teaching assistants you need for the number of pupils you have
- If you have EYFS children, the DfE has said you can change your normal ratios
- If you have KS1 children, the government intends to relax the rules on infant class size ratios
- If you have children in other key stages, there are no ratio rules in place here
- If you have children with EHC plans that set out required ratios, try to stick to these – however, the DfE has said you should work together with parents and your LA to respond 'pragmatically and flexibly' to each pupil's needs
- Teaching assistants can supervise children and deliver lessons, so long as you're satisfied they're competent enough to do so (see more here)
- Even with the current flexibility on staff to pupil ratios, you'll obviously still be thinking carefully about what you need based on pupils' ages and needs, and their safety and security. Try also to keep class sizes small enough to enable children to sit 2 metres away from each other
If you'll be running extended provision, like breakfast and after-school clubs, you could ask the above staff to also manage these or you may want to draw up a separate list of required staff.
Identify who can come into school
According to the DfE's social distancing guidance:
- Staff with serious underlying health conditions must not attend (see a list of those conditions here)
- Staff with an increased risk of severe illness should work from home where possible (see a list of who this includes here)
- Staff who live with someone in the above group can attend, but those living with someone in the most vulnerable group should be allowed to work from home where possible (and be aware that unions may advise that staff living with anyone who's more vulnerable should not come into school – see this NEU guidance, for example)
You might also want to consider letting staff work from home if:
- They have sole caring responsibilities – teachers and support staff are critical workers so could send their kids to school, but the DfE says that every child who can be safely cared for at home should be
- They would need to get in via public transport – you could alternatively allow these workers to adapt their hours to avoid rush hour
Make sure staff let you know if they need to self-isolate
If they, or anyone they live with, experiences a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they'll need to self-isolate and can't attend work.
Make it clear to staff they should let you know as soon as possible if they think this is the case, ideally the night before.
Complete a rota – use our template to help
It's best to have a rota system, with staff alternating when they work from home and when they're in school – both for flexibility and to make sure you have people to step into key roles if needed.
For example, Oasis Academy Lister Park's staggered approach for all staff who are well enough to be in school is:
- One week in school
- One week in reserve (working from home unless staffing shortages mean they have to come into school)
- One week working from home
If you're a smaller school, this might not be possible for all staff, but focus on keeping staff who'll interact directly with children on a rota (e.g. teachers and teaching assistants).
Use our template to help you plan
This'll help you set up a rota and make contingency plans if any member of staff can't come in.
If you don't have enough staff
Contact your local authority for advice.
If they think you shouldn't open, they should be able to arrange alternative provision for your pupils.
Download our daily checklist
Fill this in each morning to make sure you've completed all the key tasks. Get the senior leader on duty each day to complete it.
More from The Key
Evidence-led training courses that make it easy to upskill staff, anytime, anywhere.
CPD Toolkit is the most effective way to virtually deliver evidence-led training and support the professional development of your staff. Downloadable courses and online 5-minute summaries provide flexibility for training, whether staff are participating as skeleton staff in-school, via video call or individually at their own pace.
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