This tweet from @AndrewAdonis has once again made me question the people in power, who say that they are working for the majority of the population, yet time and time again polarise society. This tweet has done that. It is polemic.
Once again, teachers and schools and the education system in general, are being used in an endless game of political maneuvering, point scoring and as a tool to gain influence. We should not be okay with this. I am not okay with this. In fact I want to put my ‘two pence’ worth in on this one. I am done with being told that I don’t work hard enough. That we don’t work hard enough. That the work that I do is not good enough. That the work we do is not good enough. Time and time again, we are reminded that society doesn’t value the work that teachers do.
We have collectively as a body of teachers: early years, primary, SEND, secondary and FE sprang into action to ensure the children in our care have lessons, resources and support in place from school to continue learning. We have put together resources, websites, advice, guidance in such a short space of time, that it seems unpleasant at best and downright ludicrous that we should be called upon to defend our professionalism, at a time when the support from Government, council and the opposition are so clearly lacking.
The strength of feeling within the Education community is unsurprising, given that we are currently worried about the students in our care, trying to create solutions to problems that are outwith our control and keep the children in our communities safe, fed and aware that we are still working with and for them. The school vouchers debacle has had leaders up and down the country frantic and frenzied with worry, having to apologise to parents time and time again, who have no other option but to wait for the ‘system’ to work appropriately. This needs questioning and investigation, but from what I can see there is no widespread outcry about this systemic failure. Instead, teachers and leaders and support staff, who are working within these constraints, are once again being criticised.
Just to be clear, there are massive initiatives taking place across the country from MATs and teachers, that draw together expertise and provide online lessons for students. These are brilliant and very welcome. However, in the void between that happening and in the meantime, individual schools stepped up and have provided a wealth of learning. Headteachers have directed school communities, in order to suit the context of the school, something that cannot be forgotten as “Context is King”.
Adonis calls for online lessons. There are some serious repercussions that such a bold and sweeping statement has. Online lessons live from homes have serious implications for students without proper access to IT, live online lessons have safeguarding issues something that cannot be underestimated, live online lessons are difficult to manage and do not and never will replicate learning in a classroom environment. However, again teachers have stepped up, creating instructional videos, learning new technology to help keep students going from home, which from my experience have been well received and appreciated by the students in my care. Booklets of resources have been sent out to students who have limited access to technology that have been created, scaffolded, differentiated in order to allow those students the same academic chances as their peers with technological access. Again, these have been well received and appreciated. Pastoral staff have been working continuously, ensuring that vulnerable learners are safe, that safeguarding issues are being flagged up and addressed, so that again we can keep the students in our care safe. Teachers and leaders are working tirelessly, many with their own children at home, to create a semblance of normality within a time that is not normal.
Schools have been open, they are NOT SHUT, they have offered provision for the children of key workers. Staff have been in over Easter with the children of key workers. They have provided safety for some of the most vulnerable in society. This cannot be underestimated. Behind the scenes in schools up and down the country, school staff are working tirelessly and deserve better than this.
I’ve most likely left out ‘many’ examples of the ways in which schools have provided excellent opportunities and ‘good practice’ during this time.
“Many schools” is entirely subjective. Give me concrete examples and then counterbalance this with the “Many schools” who are offering examples of “good practice”.
“not providing adequate online learning” feels like clutching at straws and again is entirely subjective. Using the word “adequate” is derogatory and condescending and doesn’t offer any solutions. I’m going to use @Xris32’s words here: “Can you define proper education?” and “What have you done to support students and the national issue?”
Finally, during a time when we are trying to come together, work together and support each other and our students, you call upon Ofsted stating that is has ‘a key role to play in monitoring schools and highlighting examples of good and poor practice’. This appears to suggest that during a time when schools and leaders are already overburdened, worried and focusing on what is best for the children, they should also be concerned about being regulated for providing education with little time, guidance or support to prepare for. Once again, this shows how little regard the professionalism of an entire swathe of public servants has and undermines the profession with little thought, care or good faith.
Instead of calling for examples of poor practice and opening DMs for stories to corroborate the initial misguided and polemic tweet. Perhaps, Adonis could show some of the humility I have seen within my profession, apologise and recognise that supporting and thanking the efforts of the profession who have pulled together, continue to pull together and have supported the communities they work with and for, would have been a far better response than standing by a position that is frankly subjective and divisive.
School leaders, teachers and staff deserve to be recognised for the work they do and thanked. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the work that my school and team have done so far, and feel sure that these sentiments will be replicated across the country.