Amanda Graham

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Public Education Day 2021

In April/May of last year, when communities shut down because of COVID, public schools remained open. During this time, I chatted with a wonderful Year 1/2 teacher, who, despite the stress and uncertainty all around, was excited and animated at the end of ‘a joyful day’ at school.

With many students learning at home, her onsite class had shrunk to around fifteen students, half its usual size, and she had been working with them in ways that hadn’t been possible with a full class. During lessons she had time to connect with every student and know where each was in their learning. There was time to give assistance to those who needed it. Children with learning difficulties came closer to receiving the support they should have.

The kids felt the difference too. There was enough equipment to go around and enough space in the classroom so that everyone could find calm, comfortable places to work. Some who were often quiet, came out of their shells and contributed more. New and stronger relationships formed, even in that short time.

Other teachers made similar observations. Fewer students and more space dramatically improved the way they could teach, and the way students were learning.

Imagine if this was the common experience in public schools...students with the support they need to be successful and teachers with enough time and resources to address each student’s needs, every day. What a difference it would make.

If we had a community and a government that valued public education properly, we could easily make this happen. We could employ more teachers, find more professional support for students, and create more space. We have the human and physical resources to do this.

All we need now is the policy.

Amanda Graham, Author of Picasso and the Green Tree Frog