Teachers stand by our children; we must stand by them

St Richard’s C E First School, Evesham © John Harris/reportdigital.co.uk

Teachers dedicate their entire career to educating, nurturing and caring for pupils, our children.

From reception classes to sixth form, teachers are beside them all the way, helping toddlers grow into adults. 

Yet suddenly these dedicated professionals are, according to MPs and the right wing press, public enemy number one.

Their crime? Protecting children by refusing to allow them to return school until their safety can be guaranteed.

Over the weekend The Daily Mail and The Sun attempted to demonise the leaders of our teaching unions, accusing them of living in expensive houses and – wait for it – taking part in a Momentum phone call, and “OKing cash for fact-finding trips to communist Cuba”.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner was similarly targeted for sending an email to party members urging them to join a union.

The first duty of every employer must be to ensure their workplace is safe. At the moment, scientific opinion is split about whether schools would be safe or not. One scientist has even suggested opening up schools as a way to see how other work environments might be impacted – an experiment using children and teachers as guinea pigs.

It’s not just children and teachers, though, is it? It’s those family members who might be infected and themselves infect their work colleagues.

Today’s attacks in the media came following a survey from the Institute of Fiscal Studies that said children from better-off households are spending 30% more time each day on educational activities than children from the poorest fifth of households.

For the government to jump on child poverty now, after helping create it over the last decade – 4.1m children were living poverty in 2017-18 – is political opportunism at its most grotesque.

Teachers fully understand the need to tackle child poverty because they see it every day. They also fully understand the need for our economy to start working again.

And they are correct to insist schools are safe before they return. For those suddenly claiming a child’s education is a priority, I respectfully suggest a child’s life is more important.

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