So said Voltaire, with similar versions from Shakespeare and Confucius.
Throughout lockdown, the lack of schooling for my kids – and to millions of other children less fortunate than mine – has incensed me.
Generally, private schools have moved their lessons online, doing so at pace. State schools, however, have largely failed their children, though there are outliers, by mostly shunning online lessons.
For the sake of posterity, and so that my children know that I tried to make a difference. I offered constructive help to my kids’ school, even offering to pay for an IT consultant to help – which remains unacknowledged. I explained that the Information Commissioner has stated that they will take a common sense (read: generous) approach to data protection regulation during the pandemic. Sadly, my generous, helpful letter was rebuffed.
Broadly, the response from the school was:
- Teachers are forbidden to check on their pupils by telephone, unless they attend school to make the calls. Hogwash.
- Given that not all children have devices, we will not offer any online tuition. But we will make no effort to pool resources from other parents.
- We will send numerous emails with work to be completed, with parents and carers having to sit with them all day, even if they are working full-time and don’t know how to teach.
- We haven’t sought feedback from parents as to what they want: we know best.
- Teachers aren’t trained to give lessons online, so we won’t experiment.
Given the disastrous, Delphic way that schools are managed – a hodgepodge of Local Authorities, Academies, powerless governors, Ofsted policeman, Department for Education, trade union involvement, with omnipotent, overworked Heads – not one organisation or person is responsible for the mess: but of course, all failures rest with the Government. Gavin Williamson must be fired.
Because it’s tricky to offer a proper education in lockdown, many State schools have taken the view that because online education can’t be perfect, nor equitable, they won’t try. Of course, the losers won’t be the privileged kids, rather it will be children who are less fortunate. Educational attainment levels will further widen.
I predict (yes, another prediction) that Boris will shortly launch a war against the teaching unions, which will, because of the failure to provide online education, enjoy popular support in the country. You have to admire Boris’ Machiavellian approach: tarnish the unions, even though millions of children have been deprived of an education since March, in order to crush them, permanently.