Today is May 20th – the national ‘Thank a Teacher Day’. Now I am a 24 hour news addict and have already listened to and part watched 3 hours of the BBC 24 hour news, but I haven’t heard anyone thank a teacher for anything.

I try not to get involved in political issues on Twitter, a social media I love and engage with almost every day. The truth is I am a swing voter – I go for the person rather than the party – and that has led to me getting my fingers burnt quite a number of times. I never voted for Margaret Thatcher, I felt she was arrogant and self-serving, and I voted for Blair twice – the first time I was delighted with his leadership and the second I was devastated – but now I am behind Boris in principle, purely because he makes me laugh and he is so positive.

My point is that no politicians and parties seem to really value our profession and want to thank the hard working and dedicated people working within it.

When all is well in the world, teachers rarely get a mention in politics. When there is a crisis, such as a rise in disease, in poor behaviour,  in unwanted pregnancies, in knife crime or similar – it is ‘Why don’t the teachers sort it out?’ Not the parents… not the politicians… In most countries in Europe social education is not the responsibility of the teacher, they teach the curriculum and little else. I am not saying we shouldn’t teach social behaviour, I am saying we get no thanks when we do it and we get the blame when we don’t.

One headline this morning referred to teachers ‘going back to work’. News Flash! They never stopped working! Most schools are still open with teachers in classrooms alternate weeks and preparing home learning resources and lessons in between.

At this moment, there are countless zoom meetings and leadership team planning sessions for a possible re-opening from June 1st, with much measuring of classrooms and tables, route planning and re-timetabling to allow staggered breaks and outside play. And a huge amount of stress!

No-one consulted the teachers and now there is a hotbed of objection and a political tug-of-war with the BMA, the teaching unions and Michael Gove (who doesn’t improve in the eyes of the profession) all throwing their two-penn’orth in. Will it happen? I doubt it. Who can justify the bizarre suggestion that you can teach a 4 year old to read by sitting 7 feet away from them with a book in front of them? If anyone should be back in school it should be Key Stages 2, 3 and 4. The 4 and 5 year olds need contact, are tactile and need rich stimulation and play – social distancing is just what they DON’T need and will not be able to respect.

The political battles wage on around us, the blame game continues and those who know nothing put down those who know so much and know what won’t work, isn’t safe or isn’t right. And no-body seems to have remembered to just stand up and THANK our wonderful, selfless and dedicated teachers.

Regardless of politics, teachers love their job, the privilege of working with their pupils and their schools and communities. They only want what’s best for the children they teach and the community they serve. They have worked and continue to work all hours despite the view that schools are closed. They want to be back at school more than anything, but only when it is safe for everyone.

So I say a huge thank you to all the teachers, teaching assistants, leaders, headteachers, cleaners, cooks, and support staff in our schools across the four countries of the United Kingdom. The government should rise and salute you!

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