Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The mysterious teaching union that doesn't want to teach

My latest on LifeSite.

Britain’s teaching unions are decidedly unenthusiastic about the re-opening of schools as the coronavirus lockdown eases. Surprisingly, they aren’t keen on online learning, either. The National Education Union (NEU) has told its members not to live-stream lessons from their homes, engage one-to-one with pupils, or expect any input from parents. Their bald statement, directed to primary (junior) school pupils, “Teachers cannot be expected to mark work,” sounds like a parody of obstructive trade unionism from the 1970s.
It is a particularly puzzling attitude in the context of education. There has been a lot of talk of the harm done to the education of children by the closure of schools and how this will widen the gap between the educationally privileged and the educationally deprived. There has also been a lot of talk about the non-educational functions of schools. Apparently the role of schools is not just education, but the provision of childcare, especially for “key workers”; the surveillance of children in danger of domestic abuse; and the provision of nutritious meals. Given what is said about the nutritional value of much school catering, I can only assume that this last claim is made against a very low baseline.


  1. Same here in the states. Schools are naturally concerned about continuing education for students, but there is a definite alarm about children not being fed, as if parents are now entirely incapable of providing minimal sustenance to children, and now children might not eat. Given the fact that most people, even "the poor", still do have expensive cell phones, nice vehicles, and huge TV's, this is hard to square, but the schools are very concerned about it. There is no doubt, children are at risk of various things at home, sadly, that is true. Parents aren't what they used to be, not by a long shot.
    My concern is a fearful society enforcing social distancing, masks, and paranoia on elementary-age children, up to grade 5 or so. Little children are already shown to be suffering from anxiety, families are under pressure from many things. The last thing any child today needs is to be told "Don't get near him!" or "You're too close! Move back, do you want Covid?". If we do that to children, we are guaranteed to make them all at least a little more nervous and stressed than they already are. We need to accept there is no such thing as social distancing for children under around aged 11, and even then, it's insane to try to force it on them. I'd pass and teach them at home and hope for better days.

  2. Let's face it for teachers "You have never had it so good", they are being paid for staying at home and doing very little.As far as I know the state schools are sending out some kind of work package but no marking. The independent schools are doing very well and most/many providing work and having it marked.A friend of mine has two children at England's oldest (probably most) Catholic school: St Edmund's College,Ware and she tells me that they are doing a fantastic job, posting work online and having it electronically marked and having ZOOM classes. You get all that there and a Pugin chapel as well and they still have Benediction and relics.

  3. Please don't generalise about schools or teachers, Shaun. St Edmund's, which charges £30k a year for boarders, is setting work and marking it? Great! So is the local grammar school, attended by my children, where teachers are still doing their best in difficult circumstances and certainly not 'doing very little'! St Edmund's has a lovely Pugin chapel.... but sadly it has been ruined by the addition of a novus ordo table.

  4. You are absolutely right and it is wrong to generalise.A friend of mine is doing fantastic work in her primary school uploading work every day for six year olds. You are right, of course, St Edmund's is a Novus Ordo school and so like most novus ordo chapels and churches will have a forward table.