With the ever-increasing technological advances in our world these days I have often wondered whether teachers could be replaced by technology. After all, a Google search is to many the ‘go-to’ strategy if we want to find out more detail about something and with the capabilities of video conferencing programs surely lessons could be taught online? Over the past few weeks however, it has become clear to me that as fantastic as all this technology is, it stops short of the most important aspect of education; relationships.

The foundation of a successful education is the relationships that are built between student and teachers, between students and their peers and between the adults who work together. Teaching is a vocation, it isn’t the type of career you opt into because of the holidays, or if it is, you will very quickly change your career path and if you don’t, you will have a very miserable time of it! For those of us who live and breathe our chosen vocation, we do so because we thrive on the social interaction. The relationships we build with our students is what makes our job the most satisfying and sometimes most infuriating, job in the world. I have spoken to so many of our teachers and support staff in the last few weeks and without doubt, each and every one of them can’t get through the conversation without talking about how much they miss our children. Our job is based on social interaction and that is why for so many of us the social distancing seems so alien and so hard to get accustomed to. We genuinely do miss every one of our young people. They are the reason we are in this job and without them in school we really are finding it tough.

I sympathise greatly with those parents for whom home-schooling is a challenge, after all, you didn’t choose to go into teaching, you haven’t had the years of training and the experience to know how and when to provide feedback, to challenge for greater depth of thinking and how to scaffold work to enable your child to access it. In a similar way I know that certainly speaking for myself and I am sure most of our staff, if we were suddenly asked to do a job that we had no prior experience, we would feel hopelessly out of our depth. The one benefit of home schooling over any other ‘new job’ is that we have all experienced going to school, whether that was a good experience or otherwise, we have some background and therefore some empathy and understanding of school. That said, having been to school doesn’t mean we want to become teachers and I know all of the staff at Ernesford are extremely grateful for your efforts in keeping your children on task with the work being provided.

Katherine from Alvis House has produced these bags for the NHS workers in her home-school textiles lessons.
William from Daimler House, hard at work in his home-school Food Technology class.

As I write this I am delighted to say that we have been allowed to start welcoming back a small percentage of Year 10 and Year 12 students to school. This has provided a genuine boost to the morale of our staff, many who won’t mind me saying, have really struggled with this new concept of teaching. We are always willing to embrace new challenges and try new ideas, however, we are all far happier when we have the children right here in the same room as us. Engaging with their learning, responding immediately to their misconceptions and most of all, further developing the respectful and fulfilling relationships we have with our students.