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A response to Doug Marr

I want to start by saying how shocked I am that a former headteacher wrote this piece.

The idea that teachers have been “sitting at home” and doing nothing during the corona crisis is so far from the truth. Many schools are still open, providing childcare for essential key workers. Most headteachers are in their schools every day, organising and trying to map the way forward for the young people in their care. They are taking risks to their own health every day, with no protective equipment. Take my good friend Flora Barton, headteacher. 4 weeks ago, she had to self-isolate for 2 weeks because her son had a cough. Literally didn’t leave the house. Still ran her school remotely, kept it open, constant phone calls and planning. Once out of isolation, she has been in school every single day – including now during what would have been the Easter break. She’s been hands on teaching, planning and ensuring the students at her school are safe and looked after. Hasn’t made a song and dance about it. No one knows the efforts she’s been going through and the risks she’s been taking to keep her school going. This is a story mirrored across the country. And here is Doug Marr, presumably sat at home in a dressing gown drinking cocoa whilst writing this piece, telling the Scottish public that teachers are lazy, ungrateful cretins. Doug Marr – go visit some schools. I know of teachers delivering food packages to families in the community, schools organising all kinds of online events, keeping communities connected. Schools are as active now as they’ve ever been. Design and technology teachers manufacturing protective visors in their classrooms and taking them to hospitals, teachers designing online learning programmes “overnight” and providing them for free to other teachers and students. Smearing the profession at a moment like this is just beyond belief, hence my desire to write this response. Teachers love the kids they teach, the communities they serve and they continue to go above and beyond every single day.

Outside of schools, teachers are at home as busy as ever planning lessons, delivering them online, replying to emails, creating webinars, checking in with the kids. Another friend of mine is a full-time teacher in the North West of England. She is a single mother of two children. She has been teaching them at home because she’s worried about sending them anywhere. Whilst home schooling them on her own, she’s still been doing her normal job once the kids go to bed. So, at night she is spending hours delivering the online learning curriculum to her students. She doesn’t want to let them or her school down. Go and tell her she’s not “selfless enough” Doug. So many teachers are just like her. They are literally doing their jobs at home. You don’t have a clue but you really should.

I’m saddened that the age-old trope about teachers only working 9-3 and doing nothing else beyond is being peddled out. I’m guessing this is where the suggestion of increasing the length of the school day and decreasing holiday time is rooted in. Please read my TES piece about teacher holidays. This article read like some kind of “revenge against the teacher”. Newsflash Doug – Corona Virus is not the fault of the teacher and using teachers as scapegoats for the pain that so many are suffering is an awful low blow. The implication that teachers “have it easy” in all of this is a divisive one.

We are all in this fight together. Teachers will keep doing their bit alongside everyone else.

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