If you ask me – which I am shocked to note, no-one has – schools must re-open, forthwith, for the good of our nation’s children. Every week that goes by, they are missing out on class – and this may cause very real and lasting damage.
I do not say this for my own benefit. I’m merely concerned about the personal well-being of the contemptible little blighters who plague my neighbourhood. I simply cannot bear the thought of them going without – like I had to. It did me no harm, of course – but my generation were blessed with moral fibre, unlike today’s lot.
Many have lost out on years of education, during the past two months. And yes, students and school staff may catch this dreaded virus – and even die, for all I know. But isn’t that all part of growing up? I have lost count of the times it happened to me.
What recalcitrant teachers need to embrace is the spirit of the Blitz. Not the crime wave which ensued during the blackout – or that whole communist insurgency/Savoy Hotel thing (most unruly); but the good part. The part were everything worked out really well – and proved that Britain was the best country, after all. With the flags to prove it.
This is precisely the sort of thing that schools should teach; and there has never been a better time to learn life’s most important lessons. Not trendy lefty concerns – like grievance-based geography; but good old-fashioned common sense, and time-tested values.
Namely, everything is just the way it is for good reason – and if anyone tries to change things, it won’t work; so it’s better not to try at all. Then simply back this up with a well-rounded curriculum: of patriotism, gumption, and dinosaurs.
Speaking of which, so-called teaching personnel would do well to consider the example of true education professionals – such as Reverend Steve Chalke; who justly opines that schools need to restart, as soon as possible, for the benefit of poor children everywhere.
And this is a man of God speaking. The kind of selfless fellow, whose every thought lies with helping the oppressed, and the downtrodden. The fact that his company makes £174 million off the back of state schools is surely the opposite of uppermost in his mind.
I cannot imagine how cynical somebody must be to think that a member of the clergy – a representative of our Lord in Heaven, no less – might care rather more for the material life, than the spiritual one!
Nor is the good Reverend alone. Why, even a former education secretary, Lord Blunkett, and his colleague Lord Adonis, have said that teachers should do the right thing – think of students, rather than their own safety. And re-open schools, promptly .
And these chaps are members of the Labour Party: the party of workers and unions. Admittedly, they make a healthy profit out of the school system, whose privatisation they oversaw; but I cannot imagine for one moment that politicians – peers of the realm – would value money more than the well-being of others. I find the very idea outrageous!
I am glad to be joined on that score by another schools minister of yore – Michael Gove. Whose concern, likewise, is purely with the needs of disadvantaged children; and not the financial margins of private companies whose takeover of schools he engineered (the odd discrepancy arising therein is nobody’s business – so let us leave it unmentioned here) .
Mr Gove has entirely the correct attitude towards experts, as well, if I may say so. Doctors have suggested that returning to schools is medically unsound, at present; but if what I read on some website or another is anything to go by, the scientific advice is simply not scientific.
In fact, a brisk review of The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Express, The Times, and The Telegraph, reveals that commentators are all of one mind on this issue: it is perfectly safe to re-open schools, no matter how dangerous it may be.
And who are we to trust, precisely? Specialists, who’ve taken years to attain their current level of know-how? Or media columnists, who speak no less authoritatively, without possessing any expertise, whatsoever? The answer seems self-evident to me.
And that is not my only encounter with the patent, this week. The current Education Minister, Gavin Williamson, is determined to re-open schools, for the sake of “the poorest children, the most disadvantaged children, the children who do not always have support they need at home”, who “will be the ones who will fall furthest behind” .
The compassion of Mr Williamson is conspicuous. I mean, it’s not as if he is in a position to help the needy children, he cares about so dearly. Williamson, and his colleagues, are constrained by circumstance.
Even Williamson himself voted to reduce child benefit, end education maintenance allowance, and impoverish disabled children. It must have rent his heart fair in twain, doing all of this, given his voluble concern on behalf of the exact same people!
Likewise, free school meals are a vital form of support for many pupils on low incomes. Or at least they had been, until Mr Williamson decided to curtail them. But it’s the thought that counts, surely? Particularly when those doing the thinking are so unused to it.
So let us ensure that children of poor families return to school – no matter the risks to their long-term health. So that Members of Parliament, and company executives, can get back to business as usual. Priming students for their future roles in society, thereby.
 A further ex-education minister, now demanding the re-opening of schools, is Alan Johnson: whose number one concern at present is, as he attests, children’s education. Particularly that of the vulnerable and disadvantaged. Many of whom are currently stuck indoors, as they rely on school playing fields for exercise and recreation.
I mean, it’s a pity so many school fields were sold off by Mr Johnson and co.; but that does not detract from the general point.
Similarly, it is a testament to the length and breadth of Mr Johnson’s foresight that he was a progenitor of private finance initiatives taking hold in schools. And elsewhere, of course. While schools and hospitals fell into debt and disrepair as a consequence of these policies, Johnson has profited from them personally. Striking a perfect balance, as I’m sure he would agree.
It would be remiss not to suggest there was something of a conflict between his support for reducing school-teachers’ salaries, via an ongoing pay-freeze, and his professed concern for education; but that could be weighed against the lucrative speakers’ fees he personally commands. Another faultless equilibrium.
 Re-opening schools is a cross-party concern: even the former Conservative Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has been demanding that, with regard to teachers and students, we should send them back. Rudd has previous form on putting that sentiment into practice, with certain consequences arising; but let us not digress.
Of note, the Children’s Commissioner for England – Anne Longfield – upbraided the government and teaching unions for their impasse over safety. Longfield urged both parties to stop squabbling, resolve their differences; and find a way to open schools as soon as possible.
They could well follow Longfield’s own example, in my opinion. In 2015, Longfield’s deputy, Sue Berelowitz, took voluntary redundancy, and received a severance package worth £134,000. Longfield then re-hired the same person to work as a consultant, for c. £1,000 per day.
It is the most striking of coincidences, however, that this scandal made headlines in government–supporting newspapers, shortly after Berelowitz had published a report, criticising the government’s own failings.
That’s how grown-ups in politics resolve matters properly.
The government got lockdown-implementation wrong, true. They got the provision of Personal Protective Equipment wrong as well, granted. And the testing/tracing scheme didn’t work out quite as planned; or at all, for that matter. Nor did their vow to create sufficient ventilators materialise. They got returning hospital patients to care homes wrong, also; and to top it all off, we have the second highest Covid death-toll in the world.
But they have to get something right eventually, surely?