Teachers up and down the UK do a fantastic job of educating the next generation. They prepare challenging, engaging lessons. They motivate, encourage, discipline and inspire. They work ridiculously long hours during term-time – the actual teaching time is dwarfed by the preparation and planning – and yes, they do get long holidays to compensate.
But yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn – who as a teenager taught a little Geography in Jamaica – slapped down hard-working teachers up and down the country in the most appalling way: “I worked out what all teachers do. If you are a chapter ahead of the class you are okay – until you have a really bright kid, and then you have got a problem.”
It sends out a message to all teachers: The Leader of the Labour Party does not value the work that you do. To him, your professional skills are nothing more than reading from a textbook and regurgitating what you’ve read. As a former Mathematics teacher, I speak from personal experience when I say that I know how difficult and rewarding a job it can be. It’s about having a passion for your subject, caring about the future of your students and finding ways to make challenging ideas easy to understand.
I’m disappointed that the teaching unions – so quick to attack Nicky Morgan for wanting 11-year-olds to know their times tables – have remained silent on this. Jeremy Corbyn seems to be getting a free pass from one of the biggest insults of an entire profession by a political leader in modern times.
I call upon him to unreservedly apologise to the teaching profession for his shocking ignorance of this valuable career.