A survey commissioned by the Get into Teaching campaign in support of Thank a Teacher day has revealed a surge of appreciation for teachers in Brighton.

The new research has revealed that 84% of parents in Brighton have developed a ‘greater appreciation’ for teachers, with 78% agreeing that teachers have gone ‘above and beyond’ their duties since the coronavirus lockdown began in March. 

Children in Brighton have also expressed a newfound appreciation of their teachers, with 71% of parents saying their child is missing their school teacher. 

One in five parents surveyed admitted that they previously ‘rarely considered the role teachers played in society’, but their experience of home-schooling has changed their perspective. 61% of parents said that they have found it hard to keep their child motivated, and 57% said they have found it hard to keep their child engaged with schoolwork. 

The survey was published in celebration of national Thank a Teacher day, which has seen parents and children across the country sharing heartfelt videos thanking their teachers and school staff who have ‘improved their lives’. 

Roger Pope, spokesperson for the Get Into Teaching campaign and a National Leader of Education, said: 

“These are hugely challenging and uncertain times, and yet despite this, teachers and their colleagues in schools across the country have put their best foot forward to keep schools open for those who need it and shown great spirit in the way they have gone above and beyond in the wider community.”

He went on to say that the surge in appreciation for teachers is ‘truly uplifting’, and teachers should feel ‘particularly proud of their role in helping young people, and the country as a whole, navigate these challenging times.”

The government recently announced that they are preparing for the ‘phased reopening’ of schools from June 1. They intend to send children in Reception, Year 1, and Year 6 back to school first, with primary school years to follow shortly after. Thus far, England is the only country in the UK to have such intentions, with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland rejecting the government’s plans. 

The announcement has been met with extreme criticism from teachers, unions, and local councils. A leading teachers’ union, NASUWT, surveyed their some 30,000 members and found that just 5% believed it was safe for children to return to school in June. They also found a deep lack of confidence and trust in the government’s plans, with 91% of members saying they ‘lacked confidence in government measures to protect their health and that of their pupils.’ 

In a letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, NASWUT’s General Secretary Patrick Roach said that the government still has ‘urgent work’ to do in order to gain the trust and confidence of teachers and unions. He said: 

“Our bottom line is that no teacher or pupil should be expected to return to school until it is safe for them to do so. The results of our survey underscore the fact that the government has thus far failed to win the trust and confidence of teachers about the safety of reopening schools. It is now imperative that the government takes every available opportunity to provide the necessary assurances that teachers are seeking.”

There have also been concerns over the practicality of socially-distanced classrooms. Many teachers have questioned how realistic it is to expect young children to understand the need for distancing rules, and many have also said that PPE will be an essential requirement in most schools. 92% of teachers surveyed said that social distancing would ‘not be possible’ in their school, and 87% believe that PPE is essential. Currently, the government guidance states that PPE will not be needed in most schools. 

The Badger spoke to Madeline Breed, a PGCE student at Exeter University. She says that reopening schools in June is not only a health hazard, but will also take away vital parts of group learning: “Teachers will have to stop teaching students how to share equipment and how to work closely with other students, despite spending years trying to enforce these behaviours in students.’

She went on to say that socially-distanced classrooms will turn ‘a safe-learning environment’ into a ‘clinical space not suitable for young children’. Children will be unable to practice the learning processes they are familiar with, “creating more hurdles they will need to overcome before they can be expected to progress”.

Ms Breed also explained that socially-distanced classrooms will only be possible in certain schools, as “only a minority of schools are lucky enough to have large classrooms where a 2m distance between pupils and teachers can be achieved, so for many teachers just being in their classroom will inevitably create personal risks.”

She added that distancing in classrooms will also remove teacher’s abilities to provide the important emotional care that many students rely upon:

“A teacher trying to maintain social distance cannot help a student when they are struggling or comfort a pupil if they are upset. This is a fundamental part of being a teacher, but it becomes impossible when asked to remain socially distant.”

The Badger would like to express their deepest appreciation of teachers today, and every day. 

Join us in celebrating Thank a Teacher day by sharing stories of a teacher you appreciate, visit thankateacher.co.uk for more information.

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