Lots of talk yesterday and today about Johnson, Sunak, fines, law breaking and, around teaching and medical, Fabricant and his scurrilous claims around teachers and nurses popping into the staffroom at the end of the day together for a drink.
Many people are trying to sweep under the carpet. We all broke a few rules, apparently, it wasn’t a full party, they didn’t think it was a party, it wasn’t against the rules. Apparently it is just a small thing and has no bearing on people’s ability to govern and hold office. We should judge them on other contributions, not this one. That just doesn’t wash though. In some parts of society it may be that this is perfectly acceptable, and people are happy to go along with this. However, in mine, the idea that breaking the law and not having to deal with the subsequent consequences on your job and position is completely alien.
I have always thought that as a teacher my principal job has two strands of equal importance. Firstly, teaching them things. Secondly, teaching them how to be a good person. Teachers are mirrors. Ask any child to take your class for 30 minutes and you’ll see that – they ape your mannerisms, your style, your sayings, everything. We are the role models. We have to show them, and teach them how to be good people, honest people, trustworthy people and above all, people who take responsibility for their actions. If children leave our schools having these qualities, they will go far in life. Knowledge can be taught later one, but sometimes we only get one chance to teach these values. We all work exceptionally hard to instill these values in the children and are proud of the work we do to this end. It is vital. To do this, we have to hold ourselves to the same standards, even higher than we expect of the children and we have to model and show them how to live like this every day. We do this. Each day we try.
That is why what has happened recently has undermined everything we work towards. Teachers (and medics) are held to a high standard. Those in public office and government should be held to a higher one. Now, when I go into class and try to talk about the values I want children to hold I know exactly what they will say. This isn’t me forcing my politics down their throats – this is them using their own minds to interpret what is being played out in public. They will tell ask me why one group of people have one set of rules? Why does one set of people have different standards of accountability? Why is it OK for one set of people to ignore the law with minimal consequences. These are good questions and we will make them into teaching points, but I worry about the impact this will have on the children we have to teach and their view on the world and how they can act within it.
We want our children to be principled and have their own moral compass and they are being taught the exact opposite. Many may say that the actions of the MPs and others were minimal and are not a resigning issue. May they aren’t, but when you represent the people and the nation across a global stage, then the principles you keep are what defines you. Our government and politicians within it are clearly showing the principles they hold dear – and they do not align with what I try to teach the children every day.
British Values? We are a long way from them right now, especially from the people that insist we have to install them in children. You get back what you give out, and our government will get back exactly what they deserve in the long run.
That’s why it matters. It matters because we need to teach the next generation how to be good people and how to have principles that motivate the way they act and think. Being undermined at every step in such a public way helps absolutely nobody. People made sacrifices. Huge sacrifices. Don’t belittle them for your own gain.