How are you doing this?!

This morning I watched my son’s teacher expertly handle 17 Year 2 children on a Zoom call. Teaching them the possessive apostrophe within 30 minutes when all they wanted to do was show off their teddies and talk about what they did at the weekend (some giving away details their parents probably wish they hadn’t which at least raised some smiles!)

At 10am she quickly wrapped up the call and went back to her classroom where the Teaching Assistant was covering for her while she had the call. She has 13 of the class still in school due to the rules this lockdown meaning many more families qualify for key worker or vulnerable places for their children.

As well as the morning Zoom call we have an afternoon one for the foundation subjects or assembly. We also pick up a massive printed work pack every Monday morning and can find a weekly grid on the school website each Sunday night. It doesn’t go live until then so I know staff are working all hours to get it ready for the week. It is really well organised and it ensures we have everything we need to homeschool for the week. Even my nursery-age son also has a weekly timetable with suggestions of Numberblocks episodes and activities we can do at home with him to support his learning and development.

I have seen the government directives on how much work should be provided for students. I have seen the rules for which children should be in school. I have seen advice on what kind of lessons should be given live, how often and when. I have even had my own little moans from a parent side about how much school is invading my home and affecting my work. Because it is hard – balancing work with two young children who need supervision at least, and motivation and inspiration at best.

Yet my heart mostly goes out to those teachers who are working behind the scenes on what we see at home. I think our sons’ school is sensible in the way they have planned each day and week. Yet it still feels like the teacher is suddenly working two jobs without even a tiny bit of overtime pay. How can this be sustainable? I know of teachers who are taking 2 hours to record and resource each online lesson, which may only take a student less than one hour to complete. They are often doing this in the evening as during the day they are teaching the bubbles of children in school, delivering food parcels, checking in on vulnerable children, giving feedback to online work, calling homes, and any numbers of other tasks.

This does feel very sustainable and I hope that soon I see some rules put in place about what teachers can be expected to do if this continues much longer. I know many parents will want more work, and many will want less. This is a situation in which it has never been truer that “you cannot please all of the people all of the time.” It is a truly unenviable position which schools are in.

All I see, though, is every teacher and school leader stepping up. The workload is incredible and so is the output.

All we can offer from a school website perspective is to say we are your original learning platform! Feel free to use your school website to put your links and worksheets and planning on for parents, and we will continue to ensure parents can access those quickly with the minimum fuss. We take our hats off to each and every one of you. And if we can support you in any way with advice on making it quicker and easier for staff to add resources then please let us know. We want to help.

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