Painting the Wall

Painting a wall with a roller, the trick is to keep rolling, keep pushing hard until all the gaps are covered with paint. Many of the strokes cover paint that’s already there, as well as the gaps, but this is necessary to create a smooth finish.

With schools now making fast and critical decisions about the care of key workers’ children next week and beyond, I offer some strokes below not because I think you haven’t painted that bit already, but to help make sure that we have as smooth and complete a coat of paint as possible.

  1. These are the children of key workers. They’re more frightened than many children because they’ve seen the headlines and heard the stories directly from their parents. They need compassionate honesty.
  2. These are the children of key workers. Their parents are tired and scared themselves. These children might be getting less care at home than usual. Parents might be more tired, stressed or quick to anger.
  3. These are the children of key workers. If they get Covid-19, their parents are out of service for at least 14 days. The strategies we’ve taught them for the past two weeks need to be followed to the letter to keep not just them, but the country, safer.
  4. These are the children of key workers. They need the same learning opportunities as those who are at home. They need some kind of normal, but they’re unlikely to be thinking about homework when they get home.
  5. These are the children of key workers. We’ve spent our careers trying to reduce inequity, and now we need to put that principle to work for a whole new cohort of children, and their parents, for as long as we are needed.

I’ve run out of paint already, and there’s probably loads of bits I’ve missed. I’m in awe of the leadership I’ve seen so far from those in schools making these decisions next week and beyond, and I hope that if they too run out of paint, others will share theirs.


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