I wasn’t planning on having a two part Brave New World post but the staggering incompetence of our Government intervened.

This Brave New World post originated from listening to few callers to a local radio show. A number of times I heard the following heartfelt wish

I can’t wait for the restrictions to be gone in a couple of weeks, we will have beaten this virus and so we can get back to living like we did.

Sadly they are in for a shock. The lockdown will continue for another 3 weeks. It’s not like we have a tap that we can just switch the old life on and off. The eventual easing of restrictions does not mean we have won. Even in countries like Germany who have managed this crisis professionally, the restrictions are being eased while many are still dying. Thousands are still getting infected. We haven’t defeated this virus. All we have done is get through the first onslaught. What’s happening is that we are now trying to find ways of living and working around the virus. This virus is not going away. We wait for a vaccine. Yet even if we are lucky and a vaccine becomes available in the summer, it will take many months for it be manufactured and potentially several years before the programme covers everyone. Things HAVE TO CHANGE for this to work. It will be trial and error. Strict Restrictions may have to be enforced again.

So things will need to change. Certainly over the next year or so, maybe longer. Some things are relatively easy. Shaking hands surely has been consigned to the bin. Increasingly shops are changing how they manage customers to keep them and staff as safe as possible. What worries me is that in some areas the assumption seems to be that we can just go back to the old ways. Namely Schools.

Over the coming months schools will start to reopen. So as mass gatherings are still banned, the daily school mass gatherings will start. What will have changed. In the UK the answer appears to be nothing. It will be ok we are told because kids are at lower risk than others to this virus. Yet even today I’m listening to the Government warning

It can effect any person. ANY AGE. Even those without underlying health conditions can die from it.

But then we are told that it will be ok for the kids as more are naturally gaining immunity and yet we know so little about this virus. How long does acquired immunity really last for. Worryingly we are seeing increasing reports of people getting the virus more than once. Let’s be honest. What ever we do going forward is a risk. Sending kids to school is an increased risk now. So what are we doing to minimise that risk.

So when schools reopen – what’s changed. How are we going to safeguard the health of our kids, teachers, support staff and families. In the UK many school facilities are not fit for purpose. Insufficient and out of date hygiene facilities. A rammed timetable which provides no time for that number of kids to repeatedly wash their hands and for surfaces to be cleaned. Too many squeezed into such a confined space. Absolutely zero social distancing possible. Things have to change.

This is the time we should be looking at all options. Reviewing what can and can’t be done. How can we improve things for the better. Schools should be given the freedom and backing to make positive changes before the kids return. Give Headteachers the authority to protect those under their care.

  • Give them access to appropriate PPE and safety kit. Do kids and teachers have to wear masks?
  • If schools are forced to open before the summer break it’s likely to be happening while infection rates are still uncomfortably high. Do we initially focus on opening for just a small number of children. Just those children leaving in the summer.
  • Allow Heads to consult with parents on which kids can spend part of the school week at home.
  • Rip up the national school teaching mandates. Allow Heads flexibility over timetables, opening hours and subjects.
  • Allow them to vary teaching delivery for each subject. Some classes may need to delivered in the classrooms. But surely not all of them. For example in the UK we have access to an online mathematics teaching resource. The last few weeks have demonstrated that with the overview of the teacher, maths can be successfully delivered remotely. History can often be such a dry subject to deliver from the classroom. How about the teacher delivering lessons from historic sites (either with the class or recording the lesson). Lets make the teaching more engaging.
  • What potential untapped learning resources do we have amongst parents and the local community. At Son’s last school they did a session on the how the various body organs worked. A parent who was a Doctor delivered the lesson.
  • Some kids will need to be in school full time. But we will have a number of kids who can for at least part of the week be schooled at home. What’s the scope of saying some kids attend school for only part of the week and work from home for the rest of the week.
  • Invest in online teaching resources. I am a critic of our Son’s school. But they have invested in this area. They have delivered online schooling for every subject. Yes some work better than others – but it’s worked.

If we can deliver on some of these changes it will allow schools to space kids out more. We can bring down class sizes. We can allow those in school a chance to practice social distancing and effective hygiene. All things we are told that are essential for daily life now. Surely that’s a safer, more effective and sustainable way of delivering teaching in the modern age. I’m not a teaching expert but I have worked for years in logistic planning for public services (including schools). In our country we don’t ask the right questions early enough. Our Government does not allow Heads and Teachers professional freedom. That’s why education is failing so many kids and that’s why our schools are basically unfit to meet the current challenges. It’s time for change. We have to change or this virus (or the next one) will win the war. It’s time for change. Yes it’s time for a brave new world.

110 thoughts on “Brave New World Part 2

  1. Naaaaa. You might be right, but I’m thinking life went back to normal after black death which killed 60% of Europe’s population, and Spanish flu (one of the deadliest pandemics in human history). And it will normalise again after this. Or maybe I’m just in denial. Time will tell!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You know those are really great practical solutions which need to be more widely shared. You should share this with Local MP, Education Secretary, whoever. They just might sit up and take some notice. It certainly can’t hurt and might help.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Schools are about the worst places for spreading any illness. Even if kids are less vulnerable (unproven assumption) they will likely be the symptomatic carriers creating havoc where ever they go outside of school hours.
        As a teacher it took me many years to build immunity to the many non-educational stuff that testers in the classroom.
        Schools should be one of the last places to come back into a modified level of operation.
        Won’t happen. To expensive to reduce pass size even though they are paid less than babysitters when compared on an adult to child pro rating.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s why I’m hoping son makes the call and he leaves mainstream schooling before the risk factor returns again. Our Government has changed the rules to allow them to increase class sizes when teachers get sick. We already have the largest classes in Europe.

        Like

      1. well, there is a very interesting…suppressed and removed by facebook, which makes it even moreso… post going the rounds, saying just that, about just how much will we applaud and allow. I have often thought of Anne Frank’s ‘good times rapidly fled,’ words in this.’

        Needless to say I have the copy. of that post.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve given up trying to understand people. First people don’t get how serious it can be if you get or spread the virus, so they’ve been ignoring the instructions not to meet in big groups. Then they think everything will be the same as last year once the restrictions are lifted. People with some serious health conditions have been told to keep isolating till the end of June, so nothing will be changing for them any time soon. I don’t have children, but can certainly understand what you mean about the schools reopening. It would be so awful if we undo all the good work that has been done over the last few weeks.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s happening here for us as well. Such conflicting information. Pennsylvania schools closed for the rest of the year. New York, above us, is quarantining until May 15th. New Jersey, also right next to us, made the announcement yesterday they are opening schools on May 15th. This is how my brain works: “!?!?!?!?!?!?!” New Jersey is hit hard too. I doubt I would send my kids back if I lived there. Homeschool needs to be a viable option.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Governments are worried they will fall if the world crashes under their watch. In reality, they should fall. Although some nations are handling the pandemic better than others, few are handling it well. So now they think they have to get everyone back to school as a first step. It should be the last step. Adults understand the risks they are taking if they try to make the world “normal” again. Most children do not understand those risks. And as you say (I have been saying this myself) the world will never be normal again.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are so right on so many counts. Things cannot go back to how they were, and those who think they will are in a fool’s paradise. It is the money men pushing for early lifting of restrictions, and as usual they do not look at the whole picture, only their bank balances, stocks, shares and how it affects their lives and standard of living. Our infection and death rate are heading to being the highest in Europe, and that, IMO, is because our government didn’t act quickly enough or strongly enough, are inept in their handling of ‘protecting those in the front line’ and the so called experts are reading from a DIY manual and adding guesswork to the figures. I personally cannot see much changing in the next year, maybe two, apart from figures continuing to rise as the virus mutates. It’s a gloomy future.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Most days I’m thankful my children are adults. I can feel the stress of parents having to wrestle with decisions like this with only poor leadership, changing information, and their gut instincts to go on. A “normalcy” will return but coVID19 is calling the shots.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ugh! This is why I stay away from the “news”. As I’ve written before, I check the County web page every couple days, but try to stay away from the onslaught. I did read in The Guardian that California Governor is being praised for his handling of things. I personally trust the way he’s managing, so will go with his plans.
    Ben’s school, being a non-public autistic school… I don’t even know what they will do. They’re a fantastic group so whatever they come up with will be in Ben’s best interest.

    You’re SO right. This is a perfect opportunity to change the way school is done. It would benefit everyone, not just kids like Son.
    💌

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The lack of hygiene facilities is definitely true of my daughter’s school. And children get punished for using them most of the time, it seems. So, if nothing else, this must change!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no that would not be good for him. The adjustment alone is going to be hard. Their honestly thinking of reopening schools before. Sept now.? I can see the Government trying to open but they should keep the schools closed. And start a new in Sept.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That was what I was going to ask you . How many are in a class and would they even break the class size down? All well in good if everyone wears mask but a large amount of kids in one place is not good even if they state that kids are at a lower risk . What parent wants to take that chance?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. You should have been a politician! I’d have voted for you!
    I watched the news last night as they said Denmark were reopening schools and showed a clip of about 10 children sat with masses of space in a very large classroom. It’s a different ball game over here!

    I think things will be very different for a very long time. Unless we change as a society we will be yo yoing from one peak to the next for the foreseeable! Sad but true

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The UK has the highest average class size in Europe. It’s been on the rise for 10 years. Germany has much lower class sizes and they have generally been in the way down over the same period. The likes of the BBC are trying to say it’s the same system so if Germany can open then we can. That’s like comparing my car to a F1 car and saying they both can win a Grand Prix. It’s madness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a lot they decide to do and not do that I can’t understand. What seems plainly obvious to many of us is ignored completely. Are they simply ignorant and stupid or deliberately trying to f*** things up?

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Those who think it’s like flipping a light switch and poof, suddenly everything returns to the way it was in January are in for a rude awakening. I think life will be forever changed in many ways, and it will be months, perhaps years before people are once again comfortable being in public. As re schools opening … many states here have already declared schools closed for the year. While I have great concerns in that area, I agree that children must be protected at all costs, and I don’t think they should re-open until plans have been made … detailed, in-depth plans … to ensure each child’s safety. For some children who have special challenges, healthcare needs, or other problems, arrangements may be different, but somebody with some common sense needs to oversee the plans. You’ve been considering homeschooling your son … perhaps this is the time to make that decision, at least for a year or so until the schools get their sh*t together. xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wholeheartedly agree! His safety, his emotional and physical health, matter more than anything at the moment. Only you and he can decide what’s right for him. I’m hoping the school system makes the right decision, but from what I’m hearing, I’m not holding my breath.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, Germany has done some things right since day #1 that your country and mine got wrong. Just hold tight and see what they decide, and if they cannot do it right, tell them where to put it!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. You have really raised awareness with this post.
    I so much disregard authorities in these times, it feels like a small kindergarten group gathered together to make decisions that will affect everyone.
    And God, the decisions are most of the time bad and the affirmations, my head hurts when I hear them, and believe me, it’s not from the cold.

    Liked by 1 person

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