Catching up with Covid with Dr Mary Bousted of the National Education Union

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Georgina bailey

4 minutes to read

Dr Mary Bousted of the National Union of Education on catching up on lost learning in children.

Teaching is in the blood of Dr Mary Bousted. His father was the principal of his elementary school in Bolton; her mother and three of her seven siblings were also teachers.

As Deputy Secretary General of the National Education Union (NEU), the largest education union in the UK, Bousted, 62, has been criticized by parts of the media and some Tory MPs during Covid for his interventions on plans to reopen schools. Bousted says the focus on her, rather than other education union leaders, was due to “media misogyny.”

“One of the reasons the NEU came under so much attack is that the union matters to the members and the members didn’t trust the politicians, they trusted their union. Well, I can’t apologize for that, ”says Bousted.

Schools are now starting to recover from Covid and back to normal, she says, but the effects of the pandemic persist. Bousted believes that there has not been enough investment to make up for lost learning, especially for disadvantaged children – in England the government has committed just £ 300 per pupil spread over three years to make up for it delay.

For Bousted, this is symptomatic of what she sees as chronic underinvestment in the education system. “In terms of age, we are not investing in our future,” she says.

Bousted is also worried about an exodus of teachers from the profession – nearly 25 percent of teachers leave in the first two years, a third in the five and a half years in the 10. Research from the Education Policy Institute shows that the likelihood of teachers leaving has doubled since the start of the pandemic.

“I don’t think teachers fear incredible hard work,” Bousted says. “Teachers are generally people who want to do the best they can for their students and are really willing to work hard. [But] teachers take care of work that is unnecessary, as much of the work that they are required to do is. It is not a job done to improve teaching and learning. It’s work done in case the inspector calls.

Everyone thinks they know a lot about school because they went to school.

Bousted wants teachers to have more freedom in how they teach the program and deal with behavioral incidents. Since he first became head of the Teachers and Lecturers Association in 2003, Bousted has worked with 10 education secretaries and eight school ministers. “Everyone thinks they know a lot about school because they went to school, but they don’t accept that their knowledge is specific and limited,” she says.

Bousted describes the government’s approach as “confused” and tries “to get his cake and eat it, but he doesn’t provide the ingredients.” “The ministers are focused on a rigorous academic program with in-depth knowledge. I have nothing against powerful knowledge – I have something against which decides what is powerful and who does not. It seems to me that deliberate choices are made, which can very often exclude the work of black writers, women scientists, etc.

“I accept that schools are there to acquire knowledge. But they should be there for more than that.

Bousted continues: “[Ministers] kinda remember we have other issues as a society as well. They kind of remember the skills, but they’ll only talk about the skills after 16, not before 16. They kind of remember civic engagement. But then they get caught up in the waking agenda, so on the one hand they want young people to talk about climate change, but then they are much less happy that they are engaging politically through political education and advocacy. citizenship at school.

She disagrees with the suggestion that “wokeism” is being pushed into schools, and says that the idea that teachers have “the time or the energy to engage in vilification of the Conservatives in schools ”is a fantasy. “We want conversations with all political parties, and we want these conversations to start from the grassroots, we won’t always agree – but let’s have the discussion.”

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