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World Teacher Day

Had a good week? I hope so.  Did you take time this Thursday (5th) to say thank you to the teachers and staff in school or in college? I am guessing that, as always, some of you did and some of you didn’t but it didn’t feel that different to any other Thursday.

Why do I ask? Did you know that Thursday was World Teachers’ Day? I think that this will have passed many of us by. Probably because we were all so busy just getting on with our busy lives. I really don’t want to be cynical. Any effort to recognise what goes on in schools, for the benefit of children and young people, should be welcomed. I know that not all sections of our country would necessarily want to make a positive ‘fuss’ about teachers (and in using that title, for the purposes of this debate and conversation, I do include all who work with and for our children and young people). In some sections of our communities and with some politicians and politically motivated groups there are ‘positions’ taken on schools and those who work in schools because they are motivated by disruption, deregulation and some degree of chaos to create an unhappiness with what we’ve got. There aren’t models of change suggested, let the market sort that. The market cannot sort education. It is sorted by and built on the back of us all; communities and individuals who invest in trying to make a difference. We bring harmony where there is disharmony (to mash the words of St Francis of Assisi), we give where others might take, we see light where there is dark, we offer hope where there is fear, we unite communities where others fear to tread.

And so.. thanks to the International Labour Organization (ILO), UNICEF and Education International (EI) for taking the time and making an effort. It is appreciated, although it may not make much difference to many teachers’ working lives.

What is true is that education (teachers and the like) is viewed very differently around the globe. Strikingly, where there have been some real social and political challenges, education can be seen as something of a way forward, something that should be valued and nurtured. And, in turn, teachers and teaching is a highly valued profession. Teachers have high status, it’s a profession that young people want to join. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And in these communities, they know the value of education, they do not take education or teachers for granted.

How different education and teaching must be viewed in this country? – by those in positions of authority (in the media, politics, commentators) and by the wider public. The teacher training targets have been missed year on year. Not by a couple of percentage points but by a huge margin. Some teacher training courses recruited only around 50% of their intended and needed number. Tongue in cheek…I wonder why that is? Do young people say they want to work in schools? Do the wider public see teaching as a ‘go-to’ profession? It’s not about money, although that is important, it’s about how we treat teachers and those who work in our schools. It’s the way parents and families interact with schools – sadly those on the margins have been egged on to ‘demand’ much more, and with that can come rudeness, anger and unwillingness to accept a professional’s word and/or approach.

I’ve discussed before that disconnect between reality and perception. Many will chunter on about the state of our schools, our education system, but when questioned further cannot state where it is that isn’t working, it certainly isn’t their child’s school, which is often seen as an amazing beacon of light.

‘We call upon countries to ensure that teaching is transformed everywhere into a more attractive and valorised profession where teachers are valued, trusted, and adequately supported to meet the needs of every learner. Bold actions must be taken, if we are to reverse the current decline and successfully increase teacher numbers.’ Joint Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Gilbert F. Houngbo, Director-General, International Labour Organization, Ms Catherine Russell, Executive Director, UNICEF, Mr David Edwards, General Secretary, Education International for World Teachers’ Day, 5 October 2022

So what….

So, keep believing in your child’s school.

So, keep on believing in your child.

So, stay committed to what that school is trying to do to support your child.

So, remain calm, stay polite and try to help your child’s teachers.

So, get out there and tell everyone who’s willing to listen what a good job it is that teachers do and explain why we should all value our education system.