Safety First – School Return – SSTA Survey

The SSTA conducted a survey of members following the reopening of schools to gauge the confidence of teachers returning to school. The survey received 2,058 responses and highlighted the concerns of members.

Seamus Searson, SSTA General Secretary said “The majority of secondary teachers still do not feel safe in school and lack confidence in their employers to keep them safe since the reopening of schools. Only 7% of teachers were very confident about their return with 38% not confident at all.“

“Members highlighted that 21% of teachers felt their schools were not at all prepared in keeping staff safe, 32% slightly prepared and 35% moderately prepared.  Remarkably only 12% of members said their school were very prepared in keeping staff safe”.

“The lack of physical distancing in classrooms and around the school is a major worry with 33% of members reporting that physical distancing measures have not been put in place”.

“Cleaning procedures are inconsistent with teachers reporting that just over half (53%) of classrooms were being cleaned after each lesson. 61% teachers were been expected to clean their workplaces with 79% of pupils expected to clean their workplaces”.

“Only 47% of members are being allocated an individual work area with appropriate physical distancing and 67% expected to share ICT equipment with other members of staff”

“70% of members highlighted the lack of clear advice on teaching approaches to be taken in a way that minimises the sharing of educational equipment with 68% of teachers, who have practical elements in their subject, not receiving subject specific advice on keeping safe”.

“A major concern for members was the lack of a detailed pupil discipline policy that includes actions for pupils who refuse to adhere to physical distancing and safety measures (such as hand hygiene) with only 21% of members indicating such a policy was introduced in their school”.

“It appears that schools are being exempt from all the normal Covid-19 safety arrangements, such as physical distancing, consistent and safe cleaning regimes, and restrictions on sharing equipment that take place in other public places. As one member remarked ‘Teachers are just been thrown under the bus’. Either we are serious about keeping people safe or we are not”.

Main findings

  • 33% of members reported that physical distancing measures had not been introduced around the school buildings and in their classrooms.
  • 2% of members reported that their class sizes had been reduced.
  • 53% of classrooms were to be cleaned after each class
  • 61% teachers expected to clean their workplaces 
  • 79% of pupils expected to clean their workplaces
  • 96% of classrooms would be provided with hygiene-sanitisers/hand washing facilities
  • 32% of schools were providing face coverings for staff
  • 47% of teachers allocated an individual work area with physical distancing
  • 67% of teachers expected to share ICT equipment
  • 21% of schools had a detailed pupil discipline policy including adherence to Covid-19 safety measures
  • 70% of teachers not given advice on teaching approaches to minimise sharing of education equipment
  • 68% of teachers who have practical elements in their subject have not received subject specific guidance


Appendix A – Survey Results.
Appendix B – Selection of Members Comments