Teachers across the UK are heroes. They were heroes before the coronavirus pandemic arrived this year, and they have been immense heroes during these horrendous times in which we now find ourselves.
Their role has perhaps gone under the radar in the past few weeks but their courage, their determination, their sacrifice and their dedication to their pupils and their families has been immense.
So the Daily Mail’s front page today imploring ‘Let Our Teachers Be Heroes’ by reopening schools fully is nothing short of monstrous.
Schools in Southport and elsewhere have long been open, during the lockdown, even as the death rate spiralled, cases mounted and the clamour for PPE grew.
Demands were rightly made for vital PPE life-saving equipment for frontline NHS staff and those working in our care homes, but teachers, teaching assistants and other school staff have also been under great risk going into crowded environments every day with young children where the notion of social distancing is often an impossibility. Indeed many schools have been utilising their laser cutting equipment to create PPE visors to send to their colleagues in our local hospitals and care homes.
Read More: PPE visors drive by schools to keep care staff safe from coronavirus
Our schools have looked after and taught the children of our frontline NHS staff, emergency workers and other key workers, ensuring that our hospitals, our supermarkets, our police forces, can function.
They have done so without any clamour – that is not their nature. Perhaps some thanks is now due.
They are providing pastoral care to young people and families under intense emotional stress, many of whom are really struggling.
In addition to traditional teaching, they have also been doing a huge amount of social work – helping with accessing food vouchers and mental health support. Many families have enjoyed regular pastoral phone calls.
On top of their ‘day jobs’ they have also been going the extra mile by raising money, doing sponsored events, creating food parcels, volunteering their time to make PPE visors.
They are quickly learning new technology to engage with children and their families who are at home, creating imaginative online learning activities for children using tools such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams. Thousands of children have had individually tailored printed work packs each week, often delivered to families’ homes. Some have sent hand-written letters to children, encouraging them to write back.
Other teaching staff have created special videos for children missing their friends at school, or filmed video storytime sessions for young primary school children.
Read More: Pupils create heartfelt Pass On The Rainbow video for absent friends
Many teachers worked through their Easter holidays and half term. Many are going into work early, working late, working during their weekends.
They are pretty amazing people.
They are looking after other people’s children while their own may be at home – for them, home schooling is an additional job to their own.
Let’s just imagine the incredible stress that these teaching staff are under – not just on a daily basis, but also trying to look ahead to next year’s curriculum which will perhaps inevitably change because of the current situation.
Some school staff have been teaching, cooking and cleaning to keep their schools open through the crisis. There has never been more for schools to do.
In addition? High school teachers have lots of extra work to do collating all the figures to provide to the exam board so that this year’s Year 11 and Year 13 children can be given fair exam grades this Summer.
Clap For Carers? Yes we should, absolutely, every Thursday. Perhaps we also need to start dedicating one night a week to Clap For Teachers too.
‘Let Our Teachers Be Heroes’? They already are – every single one.
It’s time they were given the recognition they deserve instead of cheap, patronising headlines like this.
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