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Teaching staff given top priority to receive vaccine after unions demand they be protected

TEACHING staff are to be given top priority to receive the coronavirus vaccine after unions joined forces to demand they be protected.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told a committee of MPs today that it was “understandably right” the government had chosen to prioritise people most at risk of going into hospital.

But he told the education select committee that in the next wave he saw people who work in schools, including teachers and support staff, as the top priority.

His announcement came following pressure from unions, including the National Education Union (NEU), Unison, Unite, GMB, UCU and the ASCL, who jointly signed a letter to the government demanding that education staff are prioritised in the Covid vaccine roll-out.

NEU joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “It is good news that education staff will be ‘top priority’ in the next phase and that the government has accepted our arguments that it is vitally important that education staff are protected as soon as possible.

“As ever, the devil is in the detail and the government has a poor track record on delivering on its promises. We look forward to hearing more detail about the timetable for this.”

However, Mr Williamson’s announcement did not include college staff.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The government was right to belatedly move teaching online at colleges last week as part of the new lockdown. But college staff and students have too often been treated as an afterthought during the Covid pandemic. 

“Any safe return to in-person teaching in colleges must include a commitment to prioritise offering the vaccine to college staff. 

“A vaccination programme for further education will help reduce transmission, allow colleges to reopen safely and ensure that colleges are well placed help the country rebuild after the pandemic.”

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