Teachers should be prioritised for fuel to avoid disruption to schooling – union

The Government is facing calls to give priority access to fuel supplies to essential workers amid shortages.

A sign showing no fuel available at a petrol station in Grangemouth
A sign showing no fuel available at a petrol station in Grangemouth

Teachers should have priority access to fuel amid supply issues or risk further disruption to children’s education, a teaching union has warned.

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, called on ministers to take action to ensure teachers and support staff can get into work and schools and colleges can remain open.

He warned fuel shortages are expected to cause “serious difficulties” for education provision.

Dr Roach said: “For many teachers, the use of public transport is simply not an option, with many schools in areas that are not easily accessible other than by using private vehicles.

“The Government must urgently consider making teachers a priority group for access to locally available petrol and diesel fuel supplies.

“Without such intervention, many teachers will struggle to get to their places of work on time, adding to the daily uncertainty and disruption faced by children and young people.”

The Government has continued to face calls to give priority access to fuel supplies to healthcare staff and other essential workers.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), has warned essential services could be hit if staff were unable to get to work.

But a heads’ union has warned that prioritising essential workers for fuel could cause “more chaos” on the forecourt as it would be “impossible” to enforce.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The last thing children need is further disruption to education given the experience of the last 18 months.

“Prioritising key workers is not a sensible solution as it would be impossible to enforce and could cause more chaos on the forecourts.

“The only real answer is for the Government to do everything in its power to get fuel to pumps and bring this situation to an end.”

He said the union is not hearing at this stage that fuel supply issues are causing major problems for schools.

“But if shortages go on much longer it is possible that children and teachers could find themselves unable to get to school – there could be problems with transport for special schools in particular,” Mr Whiteman added.

Headteachers are hoping that they will not be forced to revert back to online lessons as a result of shortages, a school leaders’ union said on Monday.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “Schools and colleges are operating under a great deal of pressure at the moment because of the situation with Covid infections.

“The last thing they need is the added pressure of fuel shortages with the potential for this to mean that staff, pupils and suppliers are unable to get to school.

“We very much hope the situation is resolved rapidly before it causes disruption.

“There is the option for remote education, which schools and colleges have shown themselves to be very adept at providing through the pandemic, but this is very much a last resort and they will be hoping it doesn’t come to that.”

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