Why I hope primaries find space for teachers' children

Amid the clamour for key worker places at schools, spare a thought for teachers who are parents, writes Amanda Melton
8th January 2021, 6:20pm
Amanda Melton

Share

Why I hope primaries find space for teachers' children

https://www.tes.com/magazine/leadership/staff-management/why-i-hope-primaries-find-space-teachers-children
Coronavirus Lockdown: Fe Teachers Who Are Parents Need The Support Of Primary Schools, Says This College Principal

Since the start of the second lockdown, our college family has moved to live online lessons for the vast majority of students. For once, I feel perversely grateful that we had so much Covid disruption at the start of the academic year, as I feel we are better prepared to deliver online lessons using Teams.

The enormous effort from teachers and IT colleagues to deliver laptops and resources to students to enable them to study at home has left us in a good position in this third national lockdown. Approximately a third of our students accessed the college full-time last term, so our efforts are now directed at supporting those teachers and learners to make the transition.


Need to know: DfE updates lockdown guidance for FE

BTECs: Williamson refuses to U-turn on January exams

Background: Who is eligible to attend college during lockdown?


However, we've come up against an unexpected snag. Many of our teachers and teaching assistants have small children who attend primary schools. Due to the unprecedented demand in local primary schools from critical workers wanting to send their children to school, primary headteachers are struggling to maintain safe environments in their schools as their own staff are self-isolating or working from home as clinically vulnerable.

Coronavirus: The pressure on college teachers who are parents

As a result, in many cases, our teaching staff are unable to send their children to school as they are deemed to be "working from home" and able to look after their children. Teachers in further education colleges generally teach around 24 hours per week, and in many cases, including ours, that currently means live teaching to a specific timetable, albeit from a spare bedroom or kitchen. This is impossible to do if you've got young children to entertain or keep quiet, let alone home-school.

I recognise that the opportunity to access school in lockdown is an entitlement for a very large number of critical workers and we need to prioritise a limited school resource. My plea is that parents and schools consider not only the policy but also the practical application of that policy to ensure that priority is given to those key workers who need that resource most. In my own college, I'm sure there are definitions that entitle all our support staff to send their children to school, so they can work effectively at home.

But we will be encouraging staff to think about how this can be avoided, or minimised for part-time workers, or where there is another adult at home able to help. We collectively need to ensure that the children who need it most can access school lessons, to enable essential critical working, including delivering live teaching, or where home study is beyond what can be realistically achieved due to a lack of access to essential IT and a calm space to learn.

Amanda Melton is chief executive and principal of Nelson and Colne College

 

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters