‘Close, Sir? We never close!’
Bring back the army of retired teachers. Bring back into the classroom former teachers, who have left for other careers. Reduce staffing ratios in early years if staff are absent. Allow multiple classes to be with just one teacher. Use the hall for a year group. Have support staff ‘cover’ teacher absence. Reduce release time to have senior staff teach classes. Stop taking school leaders out to lead Ofsted school inspections so they can be in school this month. Allow schools to make local plans. Reduce isolation periods, and then reduce them again. Remove the need for Air purifiers and make 7,000 available free to some schools. Use students. Throw open the windows and doors. Sit in coats if need be. Redefine ‘vulnerable’ pupils, hinting that even if schools ‘close’ they will need to stay open. Define what constitutes quality in remote learning – seemingly to put schools off from having to meet the new, raised, benchmark.
It seems that the message is to keep schools open no matter what – no matter the risk to quality of education. It does not convince school leaders that quality is king, nor that education (education, education) is still both main political parties’ top priority. Instead, I feel that this says socialising is vital for children (not learning) and that the economy – parents being able to access childcare and so get to their ‘economic activity’ - is key. So are schools actually, it turns out, about play and child care after all?
To cheer myself up, I will relate a story from my children’s grandfather. On one of his early trips to the United States he was in one of those massive Walgreens pharmacy stores. Glyn asked a member of staff what time the store closed. ‘Close, Sir? We never close!’ was the response, said in a voice filled equally with pride and surprise. Perhaps government means for schools to say the same thing
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