Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 21, June 6, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Safe Reopening of Schools

Teachers and Education Workers Must Be the Decision-Makers

Following the government's decision, primary schools in England began reopening from June 1. But the issue is that the teachers and education workers should be the ones deciding all aspects, including assessing the risks of any return to work and how the education should be delivered.

The problem is that the government is still treating the whole question as one of individual choice, primarily because they are chiefly concerned with the financial implications, especially for independent schools in the private sector, and this means that no one can act with authority. And so there is no coherence to any decisions being made because there is no overarching plan or approach.

Some councils and education authorities, particularly in places such as Liverpool, have taken the decision to delay the return of schools as a centralised decision, in some cases until September, and this has meant that the educationalists in those authorities know where they stand and can organise what is provided for the children in their care in a planned way. This impacts on the sort of resources the authorities are able to provide, and the co-ordination of such things as maintaining cleaning of schools and provision of PPE and proper hygiene arrangements.

Those schools which can afford it, which is mainly those rich independent schools who can fund what is needed to be done, have organised extensive cleaning and the implementation of social distancing measures to satisfy the requirements as set. However, most of the state sector schools are not in that position and the government has certainly not paid proper attention to the extra funds needed to put in place all the measures needed to underpin any early return to school. And this policy of leaving it to individual schools and even individual teachers to decide, is placing an enormous weight of responsibility on the shoulders of those who are already struggling to deliver their curriculums online.

The other issue, which is seldom mentioned, is that any return to teaching in the class is expected to carry on alongside the online teaching. There appears to have been little discussion or recognition of what extra human power and resources are required to do this. This must not be ignored.

Teachers and Education Workers Must Be the Decision-Makers!


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