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Our teachers are at heart of COVID-19 support effort - and here's why...

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Published on 15 April 2020

Headteacher and graduate John Howe with pupil
Headteacher and graduate John Howe with pupil

Traditionally a time for them to enjoy a classroom break, the Easter holidays during COVID-19 have presented teachers with a new challenge.

Graduate and newly qualified teachers from the University of Sunderland have been sacrificing their holidays to support and educate the children of frontline workers – putting themselves at the heart of the effort to combat the coronavirus.

John Howe, Headteacher at Seaburn Dene Primary School in Sunderland, did the University’s Graduate Teacher Programme, which preceded PGCE School Direct, 10 years ago.

He said: “Our staff have risen to the challenge in these unprecedented times and the whole community is very proud of the contribution they are making.

Community and family, at times like these, are more important than ever and at Seaburn Dene, this is very much at the heart of our efforts during this national emergency, to support our community and the families within.

“Teachers from all backgrounds are key workers in this effort and we are united in our profession at such an important time.”

Professor Lynne McKenna is Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at the University.

Four education courses at the University have been ranked second in the Guardian University League Tables 2020

Professor McKenna said: “Instead of taking holidays this Easter, many of our school leaders, teachers and support staff have volunteered to work, taking care of the children of key workers.

“During the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a new found respect for teachers; whether this is from those parents attempting to home school or from parents of key workers who are grateful that our schools have remained open, enabling them to carry out their vital work.

“The teaching profession, as ever has risen to the challenge, providing selfless public service in these extra-ordinary times.

“However, it is not just qualified teachers and support staff who are supporting at this time.

“At the University of Sunderland, many of our trainee teachers are supporting this effort too.

“Some of our students are also front line workers. Heather Bowman, one of our Primary trainee teachers is working for 111.

“Another of our student teachers, Darren Green, an undergraduate student teacher on a 3 year primary education course with QTS, has signed up to be a Tesco delivery driver as he wanted to support the crisis as a key worker in whatever way he could.

“We know that one of the key things that helps people feel safe during uncertain times is connection with other people and our schools are providing a vital service in helping children and parents feel connected to a wider community.

“One of our partnership schools, Castle View Enterprise Academy in Sunderland have done an exceptional job in maintaining their links with their wider school community.

“The academy released a video on their website which the Headteacher, Mrs Janet Bridges describes as ‘a motivational bit of fun really, to let the students and parents know we were with them and thinking about them’. You can view the video here.

“It is my hope, that when the country emerges from the coronavirus lockdown, that this generation of teachers and school leaders, will continue to experience new levels of public support and respect. I firmly believe that they will have the power to influence the future of education in ways that really would have been inconceivable only a few weeks ago.”



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