Teachers’ unions are taking advantage of the Coronacrisis



As a teacher, subject matter expert, governor, and former school leader, it’s my view that schools need to open as soon as they safely can and not a moment later.

Teachers’ Unions are making unreasonable demands of the government, milking the Coronavirus situation for all it’s worth and suggesting schools needn’t open until the next academic year at the earliest.

Meanwhile, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are missing out on vital education. We’re seeing a widening of the social divide, as those without access to computers are cut off from remote learning. Unfortunately, that is a broad demographic. Not all families have enough devices for parents to work from home and multiple siblings to attempt their home learning at the same time. Many households don’t even have an Internet connection, never mind a computer.

Those who do are finding it challenging to manage completely independent learning. Teachers are the most essential resource in any classroom, and that’s why schools haven’t yet been replaced by Google. Parents are struggling to cope with the complexity and increased amount of home learning, and lots of young people are lacking the support they need: the help they’d typically get from us.

Children have already lost 1/3rd of a school year. If a phased return is the best solution the government can offer, then we must back it. Schools will need to be flexible, of course; if a teacher lives too far away to get to school safely, or if they or someone in their household has health concerns, they must be encouraged to continue working from home. Likewise, if a pupil cannot make it to school without using public transport, other arrangements may need to be made. That might mean a hybrid model of pupils working from home and face-to-face in the classroom, or it might mean schools putting on buses to pick up pupils, for example.

We’re not going to return to ‘normal’ immediately, but it’s good to see the government has a plan for schools. Our young people can’t go without proper education for too long.

This is an issue of social mobility. The ‘digital exclusion’ a lot of young people from deprived backgrounds are experiencing in this time of Remote Learning is further widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

We must protect the vulnerable and be flexible, but open schools as soon as it’s safely possible to do so.

Calvin Robinson is a writer, speaker and educator. Follow him on twitter: @calvinrobinson