93% of education professionals believe they should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine

Gary Williams, New Directions Education

And over a third say they should be in the same category as over 80s and keyworkers

More than 93% of headteachers, teachers and education support staff believe they should be listed in the priority list for a Covid-19 vaccine, with 42% claiming they should be categorised with the over 80s and key workers.

Currently, teachers and support staff are not listed on the vaccine priority list, despite them still working in schools for vulnerable children, children of critical workers and learners undertaking essential exams and assessments.

New Directions Education, Wales’ largest education recruitment company and one of the leading providers of supply teachers and long-term staff across the UK, surveyed over 1,300* headteachers, teachers, teaching assistants, support, and staff about their feelings on the vaccine and how education staff should be prioritised.  

Of those surveyed, 89% said they would take the vaccine, if offered, and nearly two thirds (58.8%) believe they should be prioritised in the first two tiers of vaccinations.

According to the New Directions Education survey, front line teaching staff also appear to have borne the brunt of the infections in school, with 11% of teachers asked saying they had tested positive for Coronavirus compared with 8% for all education staff.

Gary Williams, Director of New Directions Education, said: “We have been supporting schools and colleges in Wales, the Midlands and the North West of England during the pandemic and have seen first-hand the difficult conditions and stress that working under the cloud of Covid-19 has had on education staff.

“With the wonderful news that three vaccines had been approved for use in the UK, we were disappointed to see that teachers and support staff were not included specifically on the priority list, and so wanted to ask the education professionals themselves what they thought.”

“Unsurprisingly, and resoundingly, most felt that education staff should be pushed up the priority list to allow all children back to access classroom-based education.” Gary added.

“Working in a school, in any capacity, during a global pandemic is not an easy thing to do. Staff face the prospect of infection every day but have carried on with their important work regardless. Parents who are now home-schooling will no doubt appreciate the work of teachers and education staff even more.”

A petition of more than 46,000 signatures prompted a debate with MPs in Parliament this week, and UK Government’s vaccine rollout minister Nadhim Zahawi said that teachers would be prioritised along with other front line workers once the first phase of vaccinations had been carried out.**  Likewise in Wales, over 16,000 people have signed a petition to prioritise teachers, schools and childcare staff for the vaccine. Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams has said that teachers will not be pushed up the priority list, as other more vulnerable people would suffer, however, evidence will be submitted to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) as they make further decisions on the further rollout of the programme. ***