Just call me St Nick for the gift of no free laptops

Schools minister Nick Gibb insists the free laptops scheme has been a success – what is he thinking, asks Zoë Crockford
9th December 2020, 12:26pm
Zoe Crockford

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Just call me St Nick for the gift of no free laptops

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/just-call-me-st-nick-gift-no-free-laptops
Coronavirus: How Can Schools Help Pupils Who Don't Have Laptops To Access Online Learning?

Here's a good idea. I'm going to offer you something that will help you with your job. Let's call it a laptop. We've all heard good things about those.

It's free, it will help your pupils keep up with their peers, and it will help them feel connected with you, their teacher. Even better, their family can also use it.

Before we go any further, I have to warn you, there is a minor complication. It's quite unlikely that you will get it any time soon

And, while you are waiting, pupils elsewhere will be racing ahead with their work. This will make your pupils feel disadvantaged and worried - though they're already disadvantaged, so perhaps no one will notice. 

When the laptops do arrive - although there is no guarantee they actually will - no one will be available to help your pupils set them up or use them. You will be totally on your own with that, mainly because the people who could help you will be up to their eyes helping everyone else. That's OK, because having it is the main thing, as far as I'm concerned.

Coronavirus: The DfE free laptops triumph

And it's also OK because I will have fulfilled my task, which was to give you this amazing gift (even if you haven't actually received it). Because I have done that, I will be able to stand up in public and tell everyone how great I am, and how crucial and effective I am, and how difficult it is to actually organise this. 

And it is difficult. Firstly, you have to choose which model you want to give everyone, and then you have to decide how many you want to give them. You may change your mind about this, several times.

Then you have to actually order them and get them delivered. It's just like ordering something from the internet, and you know how difficult that is, especially when you have a whole team of people to help you with it. You should probably feel sorry for me, and be impressed. 

I am basically an actual, modern-day Saint Nick. It's clever of me to say that, isn't it? It's also a bit topical, because it's nearly Christmas. Check me out! I'm so down with the kids.

Anyway, I want you to know that you might have already heard about this from other people. Although they might seem important, because they work for the newspapers or the radio or the television, they actually aren't. In fact, everything they say is a load of nonsense, and they are just trying to spoil it for everyone. 

Those people have been trying to wreck my brilliant plan almost all year. They keep saying things about how I haven't kept my word and that I have missed loads of deadlines and that lots of you haven't had what I promised. 

2020: A huge and wonderful success

They say that lots of you are still waiting for the laptops you need. And now your pupils can't do the work that their peers are doing. Although we have promised lots of money to help with that, we're unlikely to get that organised any time soon either. God, some people are such buzzkills.

The truth is that we think we are doing a fantastic job - especially me. Really, this year has been a huge and wonderful success. It's not at all how you might think it is, or what other people tell you it is. I know this, because I tell myself this every night, lots of times. Sometimes I end up shouting it so much that it makes me shake and sweat. 

The people I work with are very clever. They are big league and know loads of stuff, including what is best for you. We know it so well that we don't even need to ask anyone else for any help or advice - especially teachers. The people who are actually doing the job? Why would we ask them for advice? If we did that, they would only ruin everything by disagreeing with our ideas, and then we wouldn't look so ace. 

Just the other day, I was told that some other guys were going to check up on my great plan, because they aren't so sure about it. I have told them to come along and look all they like - see if I care. 

I know it's been intense and awesome, and if they say it's been rubbish I will tell everyone it's them that are rubbish, not me. The year 2020 will go down in history, and that's partly down to yours truly.

So, basically, what I am saying to you is that at some point you might get something you might be able to use and it might be too late, but it won't matter because I will have earned all the glory I can squeeze out of it, despite being an abject failure who has widened the gap between your pupils and their future. 

Crikey, that was a long sentence, wasn't it? Still, it's not like anyone will notice, now they've missed so many English lessons...

Zoë Crockford is an art teacher at a secondary school in Bournemouth

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