#DailyWritingChallenge Day 48 Compassion

Compassion is key at any point in our profession. Our main role is to educate but we are dealing with children so compassion should be a central value of all educators. Like Doctors, it is my belief that we should live by the phrase "First, do no harm" or "Primum non nocere". Every decision we make on an Educational or behavioural basis should be framed through the idea that we are focussed on benefitting our pupils' whole self. It  has long been my view that children only learn when they feel comfortable, when a child is under high stress then learning will not take place.

This is no less important than right now, in the situation we find ourselves in now. Compassion seems to have gone by the wayside in recent weeks with the announcement about schools in England "re-opening" on the 1st June. The drive behind this, arguably premature, return to school has been framed around the educational impact upon pupils having already missed weeks of learning in school. Whilst some of the discourse within the press has focussed on the negative mental health impact of keeping children at home, there has been little discussion about the impact of returning to a school which will be very different to the school that they are used to. Social distancing will be adhered to as closely as possible, children will be segregated into groups and sat 2m distance apart, their friends in other year groups will be at home and the staff in their room will be different to their usual teachers. This is not a return to school. They will not be getting the same educational benefit that they would have had in normal times. In fact, between moving around school in shifts and washing hands every so often, actual learning time will be very limited.

A child, particularly a young child, will find this 'return' to school strange, even frightening. They have spent weeks at home, somewhere that in most cases is safe and relatively normal. They have been protected on the most part from social distancing, the wearing of masks and gloves and changes to social life, rather they have spent the last weeks within a home bubble. Suddenly, from 1st June children as young as 4 could be forced into an alien school setting where social relationships will be actively discouraged and learning settings sterilised.

A teacher's relationship with their pupil, especially further down the school, is a personal one. Sitting or standing next to a child is important, when they are learning but more importantly when they are upset. That close relationship is integral to teaching and will be impossible in the current circumstances.

Children need to return to school, no one is arguing with that. Life needs to return to normal, as soon as possible. But not at the risk of long-lasting damage to physical or mental health which is inevitable in the coming weeks. The compassionate response to this situation would be to safeguard children and only return to school when life in school can be as close to normal as possible.


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