Should Kids ‘Catch Up’, Or Should The Curriculum ‘Slow Down’? #TeacherThoughts #TeacherThursday

It’s been quite a week, already, and it hasn’t even finished, yet.

BoJo made the announcement we all knew was coming, but kinda hoped wouldn’t. That ALL schools are reopening to the children on Monday, 8th March.

Now, as you all know, we have been ‘open’ the whole time, remotely teaching the pupils who would usually be in our classrooms, since January 4th.

The extreme lockdown was put upon the whole country, as another variant of the virus ravaged the country. That, and the fact that good old BoZo decided that a little mixing at Christmas wouldn’t hurt…

Boy, was he wrong! And to top it off, he allowed a huge amount of schools to start back, after Christmas, for one day, before deciding to send everyone home, to learn remotely. And that one day appeared to make a huge difference to the figures, in that they jumped, as the cross contamination.

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And so, we come to this week’s announcement, that schools will be reopening to pupils from 8th March. Still, though, no staggering the start, just everyone back.

Okay, so there are a couple of differences, in that pupils in Secondary school will have to wear masks when in class, too, and they will be asked to have regular LFD tests, to lessen the asymptomatic spread of the virus.

Still no huge changes for Primary schools. Neither have teachers been prioritized with regards to the vaccinations. No new ventilation systems, no compulsory face coverings, no reduced class size. But we, as a staff, are being tested twice a week.

Apparently, it isn’t schools that spread the virus… (it’s the people within them that do!)

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Anywho, that wasn’t what I was meant to be waffling about…

It was the little fact that the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, slipped into his announcement today, about Summer Schools.

As we all know, children across the board have faced disrupted learning for a year, now, and there is no guarantee that it is over, by any means. But, I’m getting frustrated by the Government’s turn of phrase now. Kids are ‘falling behind’. Kids need to ‘catch up’.

Sorry, catch up to whom, exactly?

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Each and every child out there has faced the same issues, and yes, I agree, that some from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with Special Eduactionan Needs, will have possibly have accessed even less learning.

But they are all in the same boat.

They have all lost around a year’s learning.

So, why the push to ‘catch up’? Why cause untold stress to both children, and school staff alike, pushing them to ‘catch up’, when, surely it would be simpler, for the DfE to rework the curriculum for these children.

We need to add a bigger section on well being, and those outdoor and creative pursuits, to allow these children the opportunities to develop, or recover, their social skills, communication and languge skills, and their physical development needs attention, too.

Maybe they learn the importance of certain grammar skills, or how to create a leaflet, or the importance of improper fractions, and decimals, a year later.

How about they concentrate on those fundamentals, for a little longer?

What if phonic knowledge, and the understanding of number was given more importance, for a little longer, to embed it, instead of piling on this ‘catch up’?

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But, no, that wouldn’t do, after all, it was stated, somewhere, that this pandemic will have lost these children around £40k in earning potential, when they grow up…

Just reread that last sentence.

How on earth can they even suggest that? What proof do they have?

If we were to slow down the curriculum, we’d become more in line with several European countries who have education systems and results that far surpass our own, as well as better mental health within the youngsters living there. And they are definitely not losing out on that earning potential…

So, the plans have been bandied about, to extend school days, or to shorten the summer holidays, so the kids can ‘catch up’. Or, the one he mentioned today, Summer School. (For the children who have fallen behind significantly. The same kids who we may have found it hard to get engaged, throughout lockdown.)

Yet again, they are forgetting that these children have missed being in school, but they have still had the learning opportunitites, through the remote learning provided, and the tireless support of their teachers and teaching assistants, over the period of lockdown.

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I’ve yet to meet a parent who is excited by that idea.

Most of them are horrified, saying they wouldn’t send their kids, because they needed a break from all the stress. Now, if funding was plied into summer sports clubs, youth clubs, and initiatives of that nature, they’d be there in a flash.

And I am pretty sure most kids will not happily say they want to spend their summer holiday at school, considering they have still been learning, albeit at home, the whole time. (You should have seen the mugs of my two teens when I said there is a chance there might be Summer School, this year…)

Oh, and who will staff these summer schools?

A token amount has been earmarked for all schools, with the throwaway comment that you could offer your current staff some overtime, or hire some summer staff to run these initiatives… though the amount they say will be given, might pay for maybe two or three members of staff, for a month. (Exactly how many children are you talking about us teaching during that summer period?)

Er, hello.

I work through most of my summer, already, preparing for the new cohort that is due to start in September, including sorting out the classrooms, getting resources ready, researching new lesson ideas… the couple of weeks I do try to switch off, is well deserved! And this is all going to be after a hugely exhausting year, where we, as a profession, and all school staff, have not stopped. We’ve worked hard, despite people out there suggesting that teachers are just being paid to sit at home and post a couple of ‘lessons’, (don’t get me started!) to provide an education to our pupils, in a format that none of us have been trained to do, and I think that, for the most part, we have done bloody brilliantly!

So, you are suggesting that I, quite possibly, work through that break, too?

I’m not going to answer that.

There is sure to be another U-Turn, soon enough, but just the discussions or thoughts of their ideas is making my blood boil.

I am going to get off my soapbox, now.

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Thank you and good night (morning).

Teacher Life – #TestingTimes

Well, hello there, Peeps!

It’s me, back again, musing on a Thursday abot the strange world we’re living in, especially the world of schools.

As you know, I’m not a huge fan of remote learning, and honestly, there are very few teachers worth their salt, who would honestly say they prefer the systems in place now, as opposed to face to face teaching.


I won’t wax lyrical again about the same thing, though.

A quick update. Week one was much smoother than I had imagined, and I embarked upon the calls for week two, as well as having students in the classroom, it being my turn this week. Aside from two parents who asked about the possibility of Zoom, or live lessons, everyone else was pretty happy. A few needed a little urging, again, to make sure they were helping their child to access learning, but there were at least a few who made a point of saying how happy they were with everything we were setting.

I’ve received photos of work, and even some wonderful videos of children demonstrating their learning. It warmed my heart!

Right. Update done.

What I was going to discuss today was the testing regime that has been suddenly flung into the picture today by the DfE for teachers in Primary School.

‘Apparently’, all Primary schools are going to be sent sets of Lateral Flow tests for school staff to utilise every day, if someone was to test positive, who was a possible close contact, I think, or maybe it’s a set of tests we are all to do every day? Still no clear guidance… surprised? I’m not!

So as long as you are getting negative tests, you keep coming in to work.

Though, these LF tests are around 50% accurate, so we may still end up in school, actually positive, but with a result that said negative…

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And if you test postive? You have to go and get a proper test, and isolate for 10 days.

Here’s hoping that doesn’t mean we end up shutting schools, if the ‘inaccurate’ tests tell a whole staff, or the majority, that they are positive!

Oh, well, onwards and upwards, eh!

Teacher/Key Worker Dilemma #CoronaVirus


Teacher from the UK here, reporting for comment.

It is a truly tough situation for everyone involved. A couple of days ago this Tweet went out… and there has been some interesting debates about it. Are we, as teachers, being FORCED to go into schools, with a higher chance of getting ill? How dare we be made to put our lives at risk?

I thought I’d respond in my own Ritu-style.

Yes, we are being asked to come into school to help with the care of key worker children. Key workers have been asked to try and arrange care at home, if they can, but the option is there for them to bring their child into school so they can go about the essential jobs, such as the medical profession, grocery and provision shop workers, delivery drivers, the emergency services, postal workers, pharmacists etc, all of whom have to keep going to try and keep this country running on a skeleton level at least.

Yes, it is childcare, rather than teaching – some may say glorified babysitting. But I’d rather do that and know that there are enough nurses and doctors out there to help with the huge influxes. I’d rather do that, than see people fighting for even less food because the delivery driver called in to say he or she couldn’t drive today because no one could look after their kids. I’d rather do my bit to allow these other key workers to do these things, so we still function, at some level, as normal (the new normal).

We have been told that the curriculum should not be being taught, at primary at least, as where is the fairness in a handful of children getting that education, when their peers are at home, not getting it? We have been asked to send home age appropriate learning, so the children can reinforce what they should already know and challenge them. We have been told to give parents ideas for other ways they can help their children still learn, while at home. The older ones are getting Google Classroom treatments, with regular lessons and activities posted online.

In school we are embracing the creative curriculum. Lots of arts, crafts, PE, music, reading, story time. (I’m still aching from joining in with t he kids. to. do the daily Joe Wicks work outs!)

No, we haven’t been forced into germ-ridden conditions, or at least, I know my school hasn’t ‘forced’ us to come in.

On the day of lockdown, it was requested that everyone come in on the Monday as no one knew exactly what would be happening. How many children would we be dealing with? Did we need to provide meals for those on the Free School Meal schemes?

During the course of that day, my head, and her Senior Leadership Team, who are doing amazing things in such a tough time, approached any members of staff with either old, vulnerable or young dependents. They were told they could go home and not come back until schools officially reopened. I could have been classed in this bracket but my kids are a little older, and more self-sufficient, and they have their dad at home as well.

The rest of us were put on a rota to be with the children that have been coming in.

No one is being forced to come in. Those of us who do, all want to do our bit to keep things going for all. My Head is in every day, regardless.

On Monday, I will be on duty with the kids who are coming in. This is probably the riskiest thing to be asked to do, as a teacher, as young children do not understand social distancing, as we have been told we need to maintain. How do you stop a four-year-old from wanting to hug you? How do you keep children two metres apart? The other days I have been in. I have been accessing and completing paperwork that I can’t do at home because of GDPR.

I am a mum too.

This is a tough decision for anyone to make.

The fear that you might just bring that virus back into your own home because you might be mixing with the child of a key worker who has been exposed to the virus.

My family know that when I come home, after a day at school at the moment, I will have been washing my hands constantly, and anti-baccing myself before coming into the house. I will shout a “Hello!” then head to the shower, wash and change into fresh clothes before seeing them.

I am a Key Worker, as a teacher, and as much as I can, I want to do what I can to help out, in this crisis, too.

Thank you, and good night.

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One Liner Wednesday – #1LinerWeds – Teacher/Mum Problems

“Being a teacher and a mother is a really tough double role; you are paid to spend your days nurturing other peoples’ kids, yet feel guilty within, if you need time to look after your own…”


By no means is this a dig at anyone who I work with.

I am lucky with my management team. They totally understand that family is a most important part of our lives, and that work/life balance is key to happy teachers and success at school for all.


I am talking about that internal tug of war we educators will all feel, at one time or another, if we decide to start our own families.

The amount of times I have had to argue with myself about letting my class, the parents, and the school down, if I end up taking a day or two off because own child is unwell…

It’s silly really, isn’t it?

Obviously my child should come first, and they do, believe me, but I am also lucky that under normal circumstances, I have their grandparents to help out if they are under the weather. If they are really bad, there are times only mummy will do.

But times like now, when the in-laws are away, it gets hard.

Take today for instance.

Lil Princess was battling with a severe headache on the weekend. She woke up on Monday with a slight ache still, but wanted to soldier on. Dosed up with Calpol, she went to school but I worried about her a lot, as she wasn’t right, and I also had the added joy of Parent’s Evening that night, until 7pm…

She walked to her grandparent’s house at the end of the day and developed a really bad cold, which was what the headache was a precursor to… Head cold. No fun.

Tuesday, she was full of it. Bunged up. Head ache, cough. Temperature.

It was awful for her.

My bro and sis in law were both home and they had already offered to have her the next day, as they knew I had another Parent’s Evening and they happened to be home.

But I felt so bad.

I know this parents meeting is really important. But so is my kid.

Again, I feel thankful. I am lucky enough to have a solution to childcare. And the offer of her being there today too, if she is still not right, is reassuring. I am not fobbing her off on anyone. But the guilt…

The guilt that I am projecting on myself… I should have stayed at home. I should have not thought a toss about work.

Yet I did.

And I left her… (in good hands, of course)


Written for Linda’s #1LinerWeds Challenge

September 13 – Flash Fiction  – Pasta – Preschool Style

Charli’s prompt this week:

September 13, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta. It can be spagetti, macaroni and cheese, or any variety. It can be a meal or a work of art. Go where the prompt leads.

Pasta – Preschool Style
“Okay, today we are making Mother’s Day gifts for your mummies, grandmas, or aunties.
What I want you to do is take the string in one hand, and pick up a piece of pasta.
Remember, the other day, we painted it?
It’s like a tube, and you can thread the string through it, and make a lovely necklace.
No, David, you can’t eat it.
Penny! Stop strangling Julia with the string!
Peter! Don’t tip the tray upside d-…
Don’t worry Mary, we can pick it all up, stop crying, please…”
The life of a pre-school teacher.

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