One London school will not be following the Government guidance
David Perks is the founder and headteacher at the East London Science School, built on the principle of offering a strong foundation in science and maths and encouraging critical thinking.
When they come back on March 8th, he will not be following government guidance and requiring his pupils to wear facemasks in class.
“I just felt it was completely upside down,” he tells me on LockdownTV. “If you’re going to bring the kids back, we want face to face teaching. Unless you do that, what are we actually doing?”
“We’ve just been doing months of Zoom lessons where the big problem you have with children is they won’t turn their cameras on. To then bring them into school, and instead of getting on with what you normally do, you put a face mask on — it’s like being back at home in a Zoom lesson. It’s just completely antithetical to what we’re trying to do.”
His school was hit earlier in the pandemic, with so many of the teachers and senior leadership falling ill to Covid they had to close the school even before the Government ordered it. So he now believes a lot of the teachers and pupils are immune. “We haven’t had a single positive test from a member of staff or child since December,” he says.
He believes the sudden change in guidance a year into the pandemic, tightening recommendations on mask wearing in class, is a political move designed to appease the teaching unions.
“It completely strikes at the heart of the relationship between the child and the teacher in the room. If you can’t have that relationship, then what are we doing, right? So I think it’s one of those things where… the unintended consequences of it are far worse than the benefits. If you lose it now, you lose it forever — you can’t suddenly say, well we don’t do that. Yes, well, you did.”
As a science teacher and founder of a school based on scientific principles, Mr Perks is not happy about the way science has been used to justify political decisions during the pandemic.
“I found it very challenging to see the Prime Minister defer to the scientists stood by his side… The decisions you make are decisions for people, and that’s an inherently political decision. You use science to decide things at your peril, because it’s only one way of understanding.”
Thanks to David for sharing his experience — we’ll be watching to see what other schools choose to do.