I write as a grandparent of two primary age grandchildren and as a retired teacher. I think there is a lot of pressure from the department for education on heads to try to force their staff to provide huge amounts of work for their pupils
I think this is totally unrealistic for staff, parents and children. Even with good internet access, hours and hours online isn’t good for either children or for adults.
Why are they putting this pressure on?
Could it be to punish education staff and their unions for having the temerity to go against the government mantra of “schools are safe”?
I would like to encourage all parents who feel that their school is giving unrealistic amounts of work to their children to tell them that they are.
Otherwise they won’t know that’s the way that families feel.
This will also give schools evidence for Ofsted if they come calling. Well done to the schools that are setting realistic and imaginative work for children.
But online work should be realistic for every child as well as their parents and school staff.
We’re in this situation for at least six weeks—it has be doable or both children and adults could suffer from higher levels of mental distress.
As pupils started back at school in Scotland on Monday, the online learning platform being used by many schools collapsed.
However, John Swinney, the Scottish education secretary, has made the decision that the quality of online teaching should be assessed by inspectors immediately.
So the priority for him is to harass teachers at a time when they are burdened with new teaching methods, extra internal assessment and, of course, the threat of Covid-19.
This is typical of the Scottish government’s attitude to teachers.
Teaching unions should oppose this harassment and demand more support for pupils and staff now.
From union leader to a Lord
I was really delighted and heartened by the former Unite union leader Tony Woodley initially rejecting the offer of a peerage.
The former Transport and General Workers Union general secretary refused the gong.
He thanked those who had offered it to him. But stated, “After careful reflection I have decided not to accept the peerage offered so I would prefer to follow the example of my hero and mentor Jack Jones, the greatest man to hold that job, and not accept a peerage.”
This was wonderful to me.All too often those who say that they oppose the Lords can’t wait to don the ermine when they are offered such a position.
People like John Prescott, Roy Hattersley and Neil Kinnock spring to mind.
The three said that they hated the Lords. But, once offered the peerages, they crept in with a variety of excuses.
When I saw a petition recently with the name Lord Woodley on as one of the signatories, I had a double take.Sadly Woodley had jumped ship.
Lord Woodley has sat in the House Of Lords since November.
I wonder what Lord Woodley’s hero and mentor would now say to this? I think we know.
How could anyone accept an honour from this Tory government?
We can force the Tories out—permanently
We are at the start of a familiar formula, where a Tory promise is made and lies are delivered.
We saw it when A-level students’ results were messed with. And when free school meal vouchers were set to be cancelled and then they weren’t.
Now the Tories have made a parial U-turn again over giving vouchers to children on free school meals. Photos had circulated of private companies providing horrendous food parcels.
What can we learn from these incidents? That our government is incompetent and profit driven? We already knew that.
But with every single one of these decisions people took action. They criticised the government through social media, unions and organised protests.
We can make the government turn around. And so, we have the power to push the Tories out altogether.
Who is really an essential worker?
I work for Wincanton Portbury in Bristol.
I am a driver’s mate for non-essential furniture for Marks and Spencer and we are currently being forced to deliver to over 1,000 homes a week.
We have been told we are not allowed to go on furlough as we are key workers. This is a lie but we have to do it or face losing our job.
We have raised grievances about this
and health and safety concerns to our HR department.
But we are continually being ignored and forced to put our health and our families’ health at risk.
Our manager is also giving some of our colleagues disciplinaries for taking time off to get Covid-19 checks.
We have a union representative but many of us feel that the company is trying to get rid of him.
Wincanton has lied to the government saying we are all tradesmen.
But we only deliver flat pack furniture. We deliver for firms such as Marks & Spencer, Loaf, The White Company and Swell just to name a few.
We have not been listened to by the company.
Johnson is no celebrity
Since he was first elected to the house of commons in 2001, Boris Johnson hasn’t seemed to have any problems finding work.
Despite his regular brand of casual racism, xenophobia, sexism and homophobia something about Johnson’s personality clearly appeals to the public.
But now it’s time for the prime minister to stop being a celebrity, and—in a time when the country needs it most—become a leader.
Don’t punish XR rebels
There’s obviously not enough going on in this country that they have to persecute innocent Extinction Rebellion protesters (Socialist Worker, 14 January).
Non-compliance works. Don’t pay any fines, don’t give names or addresses. You maybe can’t beat the system but you can put a big spanner in the works.
Bumbling Tory pesticides
It comes as an unsurprising sting to hear of the government’s approval of bee-harming pesticides which even the EU have banned.
The approval of this pesticide for the specific use on sugar beets could open agricultural practices in Britain to further deregulation.
Sadly, Boris Johnson’s approach to the biodiversity crisis is the same as the Covid-19 crisis. This is to ignore the best scientific evidence and put all responsibility on the general public.
Unite bosses feel pinch
It was great to hear that stock prices of Unite student accommodation have been falling rapidly.
It serves the bosses right for forcing students to stay in rental contracts during a pandemic.