lockdown diary 6 – sorry i can no longer honour my intention to be non-partisan now.

Here is an interesting article from the Independent.  Apparently, us teachers should now be prepared to sacrifice our lives to prove that we are committed to our profession.  But I thought it was now “safe” to reopen schools. Have I missed something? Is that an admission that reopening of schools is not safe right now?  And since when exactly did teaching amount to martyrdom?

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/covid-schools-reopening-ofsted-teachers-b1807935.html?fbclid=IwAR3Yvl-8612Soz6kLikHz4WpoXt67q6O-a8G_HdsLBasLkEjfJ7vBymkx1w

This is part of the article:

The former head of Ofsted has said that teachers need to show a “similar commitment” to medical professionals, who in some cases have “sacrificed their lives.”

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former chief inspector of schools, said there has to be a ‘pulling together’ among teachers and that they have to exhibit the same level of devotion as medics who have “gone the extra” mile during the pandemic, in order to get children caught up with their studies when schools return early next month.

“You have to compare this to the medical emergency over the last year and the commitment on the part of medical professionals and nurses and doctors.

They’ve gone the extra mile at great cost to themselves and their families, their health – they have sacrificed their lives in some cases. We need a similar commitment from the teaching profession over the next academic year.”

And out of interest: should Ofsted Inspectors be asked to martyr themselves too?  I am sure Sir Michael meant well, but the thought occurs: those wonderful people in the medical profession signed up for that and have shown themselves to be heroic.  The pandemic hit and was beyond anyone’s control.  The children being sent back into schools is not such an external factor: it is a government decision, not a pandemic beyond anyone’s control.  I, for one, have been looking after keyworker children and vulnerable children throughout, when most people were in lockdown at home and at the same time sending out/marking online learning and paper copies for those that do not have internet access.  So what is the “extra mile” the government want from me now?  If it is the idea that teachers should be prepared to give their lives to support the government’s decisions, then this is something I do not really understand. Yet this is what this man seems to be saying: the government are expecting teachers to be prepared to sacrifice their lives so that we can send children back to school.  If not, then what does the “extra mile” mean?  Does he really mean that I have to die?  Am I an uncommitted teacher if I don’t sacrifice my life for my profession? 

I know I set out with a “non-partisan” intention on these lockdown diaries, but I have had enough now: I really don’t want to live in a country like this any more. Brexit was one idiocy and made me ashamed to be British; the way the leaders are handling this crisis and the double standards between the way top government officials speak and look after themselves, flaunt the lockdown rules in some cases and what they ask the lowest face to face public sector workers to do may just be one step too far. So here is an idea: if Ofsted inspectors can not do visits to schools right now, why not send them to take the place of unpaid volunteers in Covid testing centres and vaccination centres? I am really pleased that I have not used any invective in this post. It was hard…

13 thoughts on “lockdown diary 6 – sorry i can no longer honour my intention to be non-partisan now.”

  1. I do think teachers should have been prioritised for a vaccine ahead of people who can work from home. That doesn’t seem fair. I also think we missed an opportunity with online schooling, at least in my local authority which didn’t provide any new material through online teaching. There’s no reason why high school students can’t be taught online even now as they’re at an age when parents don’t have to be at home to look after them.

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    1. You are right, Rachel. But not all parents are capable of supporting their children (which younger learners need). Personally I have been spending many hours per day providing online learning – probably more hours than it takes them collectively to complete it – and then converting that to paper take-home copies. And the result is that about 50% of the learners are engaging. It is not their fault – it is entirely up to the parents how much they support these young children. Because they won’t do it on their own, mostly. Except I have 2 who are also young carers who are totally and individually responsible for looking after people in their families who can not look after themselves, and yet still go online to do their work. Now that leaves me in awe. Secondary students, yes, they should be able to control their learning (mostly). It is the poorest who are suffering here, believe me.

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  2. What have we become, Pete? The incompetence, lies, cronyism and deceit is bad enough, but now you’re expected to die for our country? And this from a country who’s PM can’t even acknowledge all of his children and with cabinet members who’s own kids will never see the inside of a state school.

    Meanwhile, social media is awash with people feeling sorry for Johnson because his job is so difficult. What have we become?

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  3. Here in the States, much more decentralized geographically and more rabid politically than the UK, the same debate is taking place in thousands of places at once.

    Sadly, we have only lived with COVID-19 a short time, and our experience is inconclusive. It appears that young children don’t spread the virus efficiently. On the other hand, adults (teachers and other staff) do. With no vaccines yet available for teens or younger children, infections and viral spread are not uncommon, though usually not fatal. Small consolation if the fatality is your child.

    Where I live, some secondary grades do virtual learning, which, considering the quality of software, training, and, sometimes teacher effort, amounts to a very incomplete education. Still I sympathize with the teachers. Their reluctance to engage in classroom teaching is understandable. Teachers have not been prioritized for vaccination yet due to the shortage of vaccines. In the large urban school district of Buffalo, the teachers union has fought going back to the classroom, but has lost when taking their case to court.

    Parents, especially in families where both work or there is a single parent, desperately want schools to reopen. Child care in America is poorly organized and extremely expensive, often prohibitively expensive. Grandparents fill in, but in this pandemic, they are also at risk.

    Good public health policies and measures are the key to preventing epidemics or stopping them once they get started. Applying them, in the face of political opposition and organized disinformation, is doubly difficult.

    Masking, social distancing, and frequent hand sanitizing are basics, but not easy to do in schools where space is at a premium. Some local schools are doing hybrid learning to deal with this. Students are in class one or two or three days a week, and at home the other days.

    There is no simple answer. Many businesses here, as all over the world, are fighting restrictions as arbitrary, as their very economic existence is at stake, but health officials do not prioritize economic health, but the safety of humans. Getting to herd immunity is difficult for everyone. And Covid related fatigue has set in.

    We will have a cohort of children who have lost a year or more of schooling. Interestingly, posh places such as my boarding school have gone to virtual learning as have many private colleges in the States.

    There is no single solution to the education crisis, but as always the burden falls primarily on the poor and the least able to cope.

    As a former teacher, I would resist returning to the classroom until teachers were prioritized for vaccination. I do not see any similarity between teachers and health care professionals.

    Politicians here have failed to deal with the pandemic properly, and we all must live with the consequences. So I agree with you, Pete, no hasty actions at this point. A lot of pain has been inflicted through sheer callousness. It will take a lot of effort to climb out of the pit we are in, and the average citizen will shoulder the costs.

    As for Brexit, if you didn’t vote for it, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I think it is a huge mistake, one that never will produce the promised benefits. Then again, I live in a country that elected Donald Trump! I’d like to think that beginning of the 21st century is an aberration, that societies and governments will realize how complex and interrelated the world is today and take corrective measures. Then I look at climate change and pessimism charges back.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave, your well considered and thoughtful reply puts a world spin on my post. You make some very valid points. And of course I did not vote for Brexit and would not even dare to ask if you voted for Trumpet. You are right in so many ways. It is a very complicated situation.

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  5. Today President Biden announced that all adults will be vaccinated by the end of May, and, that teachers should be prioritized by the states, which under our federal system will have the final say, of course. The NewYork Times has a map posted showing school districts where the Center for Disease Control considers it safe to resume full time classroom education. And there were very, very, very few.

    Vaccines for young adults and children are still under development.

    All said, quick return to the classroom may be considered risky for both teachers and children.

    So to sound off once again, most governments including the US and the UK bungled the fight against COVID at the beginning, and many citizens are paying with their lives. Here the death toll is over 500,000 and still rising. That number may eventually exceed all the lives lost in all the foreign wars the States have fought in.

    Creating vaccines quickly was wonderful, but just a part of the process leading to herd immunity or something like it. The nations of this world hopeful will learn from this pandemic and be ready for the next, as there will surely be another. Should you have some long days to spend at home, you might want to read The Coming Plague and, especially, Betrayal of Trust, both by the brillant journalist, Laurie Garrett.

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts Pete. Looking from the outside this pandemic has raised the whole political profile and it’s effects. In every country the poor are again suffering. From war torn Yemen to America to the UK. World policies have just shown how selfish countries are: whilst I have some hope in countries who are now sharing vaccines we have so far to go. The effects of this pandemic and it’s threads have shown how lack of organizational policies and forethought have created such vast scales of mismanagement for which there is no accountability.

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  6. Good points, Pete, my running partner has been teaching 5 year olds throughout this with no PPE while they cough and snotter over her. But kids couldn’t spread it then. Now she has to self test twice a week 🤔

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