Let Us Teach!

Contrary to the portrayal of our profession in the media, most of the teachers I know couldn’t be happier to be back in the classroom. The excitement you could feel in school was palpable this week. After months of predominantly online learning, having our classrooms full again was a joy like no other.

In fact as I stood in front of my class teaching on Wednesday I’m not sure I had ever loved my job more.

Until that is the early hours of Thursday morning when the Other Half told me that our youngest had a temperature. Regular readers of the blog will know that the Lion doesn’t do illness by halves, so a temperature isn’t a surprising event in our house – more like a fairly regular occurrence. We dosed him up on Calpol and set about booking a precautionary test…

Except the reality was, there weren’t any.

The system threw up only one testing site, an hour’s drive away – it had zero tests. There were also no postal tests available. After an emergency call to my mum, we tried her post code – the results came up the same.

And at that point it hit me.

This wasn’t just going to be a minor inconvenience. Get the Lion tested, get the results the following day, get back to work – we were potentially looking at self isolating for 14 days without any access to a test or results. 

Fourteen days in which my class – who had just arrived back in school wouldn’t have their regular teacher. Fourteen days in which my four year old would start reception after which his gradual transition would have ended. Fourteen days in which my thirteen year old would miss the first two weeks of year nine.

Disruption this year is inevitable, necessary even to keep everyone safe.

But the reality is that unless testing is fixed and carried out in a timely manner, that disruption will be amplified to the point that schools will struggle to help the children and young people in their care make progress.

Teachers will feel guilty that they aren’t in school. Parents will feel guilty that their children aren’t in school. And as for the poor headteachers, I have no idea how they are ever going to navigate having enough staff in the building once flu season hits to run school safely.

The truth is, we were lucky this time.

Our head had some of his original tests sent to schools left. We were able to use one for the Lion. But now 75 hours later we are still sitting here awaiting the results – and with one in seven postal tests coming back inconclusive we are all too aware that the answers we get may well not be the answers we need to resume our day to day lives. 

Throughout this pandemic, teachers have been made scapegoats by the media. But the reality is the vast majority of us just want to teach. We want to give our pupils a consistent and loving environment in which to learn, we want to provide exciting educational opportunities in a way that’s only possible inside the classroom and we want to interact with our pupils in a way that isn’t possible online.

The truth is however, unless the government fix testing the wheels are going to fall off quickly, meaning that the business of learning will be hard to achieve…

No matter how much we want to stay in the classroom and teach.

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