Schools, or unions and politicians, are not a battleground between parents and teachers. Teachers do not favour remote learning; they are more mindful of the harm caused by school closures than anyone. Everyone needs children to be in school disproportionately, although anyone who looks at the now near-vertical Covid curve in the UK sees they need to stay home.
It is this kind of maturity that makes the general public so dissatisfied with a political debate that slides on bluster and false binaries – being able to see that the result you want is not possible in fact. The government is in denial of this and seeks to treat its people like children in England. Parents are not concerned about homeschooling per se, but about its transparency. January 18 has been issued by the Education Secretary as the date that closed schools in England will reopen – everybody knows that is not the case.
It is unlikely to bring the infection numbers under control in two weeks, and once they do, no precautions can be relaxed. The prime minister, meanwhile, remains elusive, promising “as soon as possible.” changes.
That may mean anything and that means nothing technically. Due to our experience with the last lockdown, this is important.
If someone had said on March 18 that schools in England would definitely be closed for the remainder of the school year (with the exception of needy kids and key players with caregivers), most of us would have done something different.
We could have planned the day better at the family level, we could have recognized learning differences and conveyed them to the school, we could have met other parents for online community learning, we could have talked about long-term projects creatively; and most importantly, we would not have looked so clueless in front of our own children.
Instead, we lived in this waiting room of denial, where again and again we were told to expect normalcy to return in the next two weeks, before we were told nothing at all…. Undoubtedly, if we had known how long the disruption would last, we would have done more for the entire school community: collected money for families without computers or wifi or food, visited each other. This is the job that PTAs were born to do, and yet it was all left to the schools, which themselves were fed information on a must-know-it-at-the-month-before basis, in the fog of false promises and government negligence (their laptop program in England is a particularly shameful example). Online lessons for which parents with paying telephone contracts could not afford the downloadable data were contracted by Oak National Academy to develop.
I talked to a high school teacher who had to ask the police in June to check on students who hadn’t turned up in three months. ‘All Schools Open! ‘All schools close! What England Really Needs Is Fresh Thinking | John HarrisContinueReadingIt could have been easier for Gavin Williamson to keep us in the dark; it meant that we didn’t coordinate, start campaigns, make demands; maybe here and there it saved a bit of money. Until November, the exemption system was not applied to those who could not work because of childcare.
It took Marcus Rashford to mobilize because without school lunches, many kids would not get enough to eat. If they had offered him a PSA contract, the only way this guy could have been more expensive to the government, and I bet – without canonizing him – he would really have delivered PSA. It is a false economy and a tragic mistake to exclude civil society from information and decision-making; it destroys faith, which jeopardizes compliance.
A weak excuse would be that the government itself did not know how long school closures would be taken, that an ever-changing image was as frustrated as all of us. This is implausible; however unhappy ministers might appear, they still have a civil service that, even in the grip of a profoundly unsuccessful administration, continues to prepare seriously for the medium term.
It was common knowledge as early as October that the “rule of six” (remember that?) would be appropriate until March; but we had to endure those futile press conferences in which obfuscating ministers stood on the podium and jammed for the day after tomorrow’s.