Sports coaches and scout leaders should be drafted in to keep schools open during next week’s national strike by teachers, new guidance said today.
People without criminal record checks will be allowed to work with children as long as they are supervised by people who have been checked, according to the updated guidance, published by the Department for Education (DfE).
It calls on head teachers to take "all reasonable steps" to ensure as many pupils as possible can stay in school when members of the largest teaching union, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), join council and health workers, firefighters and civil servants across England and Wales for a one-day stoppage on Thursday.
With more than a million people expected to take part, the strike is set to be the biggest over pay since the coalition came to power, with plans for further action later in the year.
But John Dixon, the NUT's head of membership and organising, said the Government needed to talk to the union to resolve the dispute, adding that the union regretted that more progress had not been made in talks with Education Secretary Michael Gove and his department.
He said: "We think it's about time that Mr Gove started to talk to us about the substantive issues, not just the implementation of Government policy," he said.
The guidance says there is no legal requirement for schools to teach the curriculum on strike days and suggests that head teachers could also consider pooling staff and bringing pupils together in large groups.
It cites the example of a school which ran an "activity day" with a theatre company brought in to give performances and teach workshops, while another hired a local football coaching company to run sessions for students.
The NUT's dispute – over changes to pay, pensions and workload - has been going on for more than two years.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have given schools advice on what they can do to stay open during a strike. Head teachers know their schools best, and they can arrange cover during strikes from volunteers who have had appropriate checks carried out, should they need to."