Private schools aren't the only ones who want studentts back

SENIOR students should absolutely be back at school now.

Who is Kevin Bates, president of the Queensland Teachers Union, to say the state's 95,000 Year 11 and 12 students can return to class "when the time is right"?

It is not his call, and yet it is.

Education Minister Grace Grace's refusal to budge on reopening schools shows she has not only developed a tin ear to chief medical advice and to what the majority of voters want, but also that the only body she is listening to is the union.

Kylie Lang says Queensland schools need to be reopened before an entire year of education is lost. Source: iStock
Kylie Lang says Queensland schools need to be reopened before an entire year of education is lost. Source: iStock

While not surprising, given Ms Grace's pedigree as a union heavy, her defiant stance is destroying an entire year of education for our young people.

Actually, many of these kids will be playing catch up for much longer, having lost the fundamentals of higher-level learning that are best taught in classrooms and not around kitchen tables.

These young adults will also be stuck with paying off the catastrophic government debt brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. They have decades of that to look forward to.

And good luck to any trying to compete with school leavers from around the country in the new ATAR scores that get them into university.

With students already allowed back to school in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory (and a scaled-back model in NSW from May 11), Queensland kids will be up against it in this regard too.

David Robertson, of Independent Schools Queensland, would appear to be a lone voice of reason in lobbying the Palaszczuk Government for "the immediate return of all Year 11 and 12 students to school".

"Senior secondary is a most critical phase of schooling and every effort should be made to have minimal disruption to continuity of quality teaching and learning for these students," Mr Robertson told the Premier on Friday.

Education Minister Grace Grace is refusing to make a call on the reopening of Queensland schools. Picture: Dan Peled
Education Minister Grace Grace is refusing to make a call on the reopening of Queensland schools. Picture: Dan Peled

While he represents independent schools, Mr Robertson is concerned for the educational wellbeing of all students - as should any prudent and forward-thinking government.

But instead we have Minister Grace tied to the teachers' union and holding out until May 15 for a decision. That's another three weeks lost.

I know many parents are doing their level best with the materials being sent home from school - and good on them.

However, there are also many doing zero, like they did when their children were legally required to be in school. These disengaged parents who don't value education, or who value booze, drugs or self-indulgence more, are not suddenly stepping up to encourage learning.

Are these the "vulnerable" students to which the Government refers? Who would know as this terminology has not been explained, in the same way that "essential" workers is unclear.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said anyone with a job is an essential worker.

If nurses, doctors, hardware and supermarket employees can attend their workplace, then so should teachers.

No one is saying classrooms should be instantly crammed full of kids but that practices can be put in place so that some semblance of formal schooling can resume.

Classrooms could have no more than 12 students, for example, with one teacher remaining in the one room to minimise contact with others.

Getting children back to school is about common sense, flexibility and having an eye on the future - all things our union-led State Government sorely lacks.

Originally published as Screw the unions, now is the time to reopen Qld schools



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