The journey home from work on a Friday afternoon is one of the best times of the week. The weekend lays out before me and the sun is shining. I play my music loud to distract my brain from all the tasks I haven’t got to this week and, slowly, I start to relax. Then, ‘Land of Confusion’ by Genesis pops into my playlist. How apt is that song at the moment?
“They say the danger’s gone away”
You see, I’ve spent the whole week trying to convince my support colleagues to come back to work and it has been really hard. There have been tears, (some from me too, in private, as my SBM rhino skin isn’t quite back up to full strength yet). There has been anger, shock, surprise, but mostly…confusion. Following the Government guidance leaves us all with mixed messages and we are, quite literally, living in a land of confusion.
“Did you read the news today?”
Colleagues who are (and have been throughout this) in work have worked so hard to get our school to a place where we can welcome more students and start to return to some normality. Risk assessment – check. Rules manual – check. Social distancing – check. Cleaning regime – check. Hand sanitiser – check. Flexible working practice – check. One way systems, ventilation routines, redesign of classrooms and offices – check. new timetables and rotas – check, it’s all there. We’re ready. But we are hampered by six words that resolutely remain in the Government guidance, “work from home if you can”.
“This is the world we live in”
It’s my view, and it seems not to be shared, that most school support staff cannot work from home. Of course, there are some roles that can take work home for a significant amount of their contracted time, but schools work as communities. We are there to support each other and our students, to bounce ideas, to share in the hands-on stuff. We need you there… I need you there. It makes no difference to most of the support staff roles if there are 10 students or 1000 in the school, the work is the same.
We are going to be living in this Covid-19 world for many more months to come and when the school is ready to accept students in, it is time for all support staff to return.
I’m still not sure why this has come as a shock to so many.
“Superman, where are you now?”
I’m not unsympathetic to the worries, the childcare issues, the confusion or the stress of the past ten weeks. It’s been tough for us all. I am flexible and understanding. But the staff in school need their team leaders and colleagues, students need the support, teachers need to know you are there if they need you, there is work to be done. We all thrive because we are a close-knit community working towards the same goal and you can’t be part of that at home.
“My generation will put it right”
So, in my head we’ve got to start putting this right now. With all the caveats to self-isolation, minimising the spread, staying alert, looking out for each other, doing what we can, where we can, accepting there will be bumps in the path, we need to put our world back together. For that, I think we all need to be in the socially distanced room.
Let’s stop pretending support staff can work at home full time. Have those conversations. Risk assess, both school wide and individually. Put all the measures in place to minimise the risks. Share what you’re doing with everyone.
Please can the Government now stop giving mixed messages to protect their own political careers?…
Then, let’s get back to work.