Whatever your view of this Thursday’s strike action, you would think this would be a time for cool heads. A tense situation needs careful handling yet, in piles the Education Secretary, urging parents to break the strike and take the place of teachers in the classroom.
This is dotty on so many levels. These parents would need to be supervised – so who would be free to do that? What exactly would they teach? What would happen, say, if there was an accident? Or a badly misbehaving pupil? Head Teachers and Governors would have a lot of explaining to do (and be without a leg to stand on) if something went wrong.
Aside from the practicalities, Gove is also sending the message that teaching is an amateurish pursuit which anyone can have a go at, and do to satisfactory standard at the drop of a hat. Causing offence and being provocative at such a time is a very peculiar tactic. The effect of such disrespect, rather than diffusing the situation, will be to rally more and more teachers to the union cause
More perniciously, Gove’s words seek to drive a wedge between the two most important people in a child’s learning and development: teacher and parent. Where there is trust, understanding and dialogue between teacher and parent, the child benefits.
Parents may – or may not – support the strike action. If they don’t, there is no reason why this relationship should collapse as a result; it should be strong enough and mature enough to withstand a difference of opinion.
But why should the Education Secretary decide to strain this relationship, to push it past breaking point, by saying it would be ‘great’ if parents, this Thursday, became strike-breakers.
When a dangerous fire is beginning to burn, Mr Gove, wouldn’t it be wise to dampen it down; to calmly put it out rather than adding more fuel?