At the beginning of last week disaster struck. My daughter who has been living with us for nearly a year, and thus all through lockdown, succumbed to the dreaded virus and became very ill very quickly. This left my wife and I in charge of a 5- and 7-year-old. A task so easy when you can give them back at the end of the day, and made that much harder by the small issue of education.

I had a very jaundiced view of the teaching profession, having been in the top echelons of a university and seeing a huge number of staff just swinging the lead – I’d tarred all educators with the same brush. How wrong I was.

The first day we tuned into the Team’s classroom with rowdy children continually pressing things they should not, some screaming and others pressing mute on and off with such frequency I just couldn’t see how the teachers were keeping their cool. My wife and I diligently helped our two through the pitfalls and issues with the platform; as well as the teething problems that came with having just one day to set up the school term remotely.

Then came maths… what was this foreign language that I seemed never to have seen before?! Our five-year-old deftly pressed buttons and filled in boxes and then came the question, “what does this mean?”. I looked at her startled and realised that I did not have a clue. It was a basic addition, but I couldn’t see what the teacher was after. I had to call my wife who calmly explained what we were meant to do, but, it still made no sense to me; despite this, the box was duly filled.

Not having a printer at home and always working on a Mac, even the simple tasks were difficult.  In the end I had to take baby steps to get to the right answers. My wife found it much easier and helped the seven-year-old through her difficulties. I watched Zoom and Teams lessons and if I hear another child say “What is the pin number Miss” I might scream, or run out of the house and down the street. Well I would if we didn’t have to isolate.

Ah yes, that brings me on to break time, but one with nowhere to go, no one to see, just us stuck in the same house with lessons going on, assessment building up and the same cool and steady teachers taking us all through the education process.

At the end of the day I am slaughtered and ready for my bed at 5pm and can barely lift my fork to my mouth. Still trying to run our businesses where there is little work or Governmental support, and also cleaning, washing, cooking etc. How do modern parents do this, especially those who are single and also trying to hold down a job? But out of all of this the dedication of the teachers and the parents come across. They have forged an uneasy union to get the job done and I take my hat off to them all. Difficult times call for extraordinary people.