Opinion: It feels like teachers are disposable now they're being forced back to schools during a pandemic
When our secondary in the Scottish Highlands reopened this week, the only PPE we were given was blue paper roll and a squirty bottle of cleaner. But we'll need more than that to manage the fallout among teachers and pupils
In the afternoon, we have a socially distanced faculty meeting and watch Scotland's education secretary John Swinney’s statement to parliament on the big screen.One of our Scottish Higher classes has had every result downgraded – except the two fails we’d predicted – and I have spent a chunk of my holiday with a staff member alternately screaming, sobbing and railing against the injustices of the great unseen SQA exam board over the phone.
With the announcement that teacher estimates are now to be the sole criteria for awarding results, there is a cheer from the staff. But, as a faculty head, it is clear that this pandemic has affected staff wildly differently. Some have struggled with lockdown and the lack of socialisation and are gabbling in a frenzy of joy. Some are sullen and withdrawn. Some are in the vulnerable category and scared.
Few teachers sleep a full night before pupils return. But, even as someone relatively laid back, I sleep only in fitful bursts.As a small school, we are phasing the return of the pupils. In secondary schools you often forget youngsters are simultaneously older and younger than you realise.
Minister says schools opening 'not up for debate'Our socially distanced assembly sees the children spaced out in the canteen and the staff on the balcony like a particularly dreadful amateur production of Romeo and Juliet.Looking down, I see children: some happy to be there, a few with faces set to masks of depression. There are pupils, even in a nice, gentle school like ours, who prefer being at home and are feeling miserable being back. I am ashamed that this is still the case, but I must be honest.
Lockdown has hit the new first years hardest. Ordinarily, we would have them visit the school before they start, coming over for team building sessions and a timetable day where they meet the teachers and also get to know each other. To come to a high school – even one of 150 – is quite daunting so this is designed to ease things.
We’d also run a residential trip where they would room together and take part in team activities such as abseiling and canoeing. Again, it’s an opportunity for them to get to know each other before starting secondary, but the centre closed due toCovid-19
and has now gone bust so we won’t be doing it again in future either.The process of transition would ordinarily last nearly the whole final year in primary school. Hastily arranged Zoom calls are not a proper substitute.I watched a little boy on his first day ever at secondary wringing his hands, looking on the verge of tears. A parent has told me that many are terrified – not just of the new school but also the mixed messages. For months, they have been told to stay away from their friends, except now … not.
Both staff and pupils have adapted quickly though, as I knew they would. It is that sort of school.I am also a guidance teacher, a pastoral care role which involves dealing with everything from wanting to change course to dealing with social work and psychiatrists for suicidal pupils. I will therefore be dealing with the mental health consequences for a long time. Older teenagers are bubbling with delight at seeing their friends, but also aware that as near fully grown adults, they are not as immune as their little siblings.
We’ve adopted a grim humour about it all. After all, we aren’t allowed to sit on soft furnishings in the staffroom, but we can go to the pub.Little or no real thought has been given to the safety of staff. We are acutely aware that this is a political reopening based upon the need for the UK government to try and get the parents back to work. Although the Scottish government messages have consistently acknowledged the hard work of staff (and pupils bless them), Westminster has made it abundantly clear they think of us as overpaid babysitters. If we worked in Tescos, we’d have a screen and a mask. Instead, I have some blue paper roll and my squirty bottle of cleanliness.
The feeling of being disposable, frontline workers in a way you do not consider when signing up to teach, is hard to ignore.The author is writingunder a pseudonym. Heteaches English at a Scottish secondary school, where he is also faculty head and guidance teacher
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Safe compared to what? 'I'm a dingle, dangle scarecrow with a flippy floppy hat, I can shake my hands like this, I can shake my feet like that.' Anyone else hear that song whilst looking at this pose. Its not that they're disposable, it's that, without them, children will fall behind and will fell a negative impact for the rest of their lives. Teachers are quite the opposite of disposable, but their function is too important to just sit around for an indefinite amount of time
Teachers clearly feel like supermarket workers and everyone else that's continued to support them throughout this pandemic are disposable. What makes teachers different to everyone else? Just get the teacher unions on the case. There needs to be safe and justifiable reasons ... at the moment, it is unsafe and therefore unjustifiable!
Fed up hearing about this. Supermarket workers worked all through the pandemic and there were no scare stories about that. Only 1% of all people that die in the UK each day are dying from COVID. There is no longer an emergency. So what does that make us who worked in the NHS when thousands were dying a day?
looking good easier to take one chair away , sitting on a poor mans throne bobby blue bland sitting on a poor man throne, do it again steely dan four the one who stole your water If you are not a part of this Conservatives government or their immediate circle you are disposable. 6 month holiday whilst most of us have been working - will still want an 'inset/occasional/training' day tacked on.
I do hate this guy! And I would stand there and shout 'LOOK, I'M A PLANE EVERYONE!. By golly, those were the day's'.
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