Reopening schools – ‘toolkits’ and jargon

Sir, – Mindful of Tom McCarthy's (Letters, August 21st) experience – and indeed my own – of clearing out a classroom, it seems as if the age of the educationalist is being replaced by that of the box-ticker, the form-filler and the furniture remover as we all try to adjust to what could be a very soulless "new normal."

Since July 27th, many teachers and school managers have been wading through a plethora of what are called “guidance documents” (long, repetitive, replete with links to other websites and riddled with jargon that would not be out of place in a political manifesto or a PR spiel). In addition there are plenty of videos, roadmaps, frameworks, protocols, webinars and, best of all, “toolkits” to entertain and inform. The amount of time, energy and money expended to produce all of this is indeed impressive.

The material dealing with wellbeing is particularly interesting. On the one hand, one is advised to limit screen-time. On the other, it beggars belief as to how one can access all of this information without setting aside a significant amount of “screen-time”. This material also contains the obligatory genuflection at the altar of psychological research, very little of which seems to be all that recent or related to the Irish experience. Still, the time preparing for the return to school has not been entirely unproductive. I have learned new things: “R and R” now stands for “resilience and recovery” and the old, clapped-out “Three Rs” of reading, writing and arithmetic now stand for “regulate, relate and reason”.

In conclusion, I wish my many friends and colleagues in teaching and all students the best for the coming year. We are all in this together, or so we are told. Let’s hope that, in the face of such unprecedented adversity, and with due respect to all those who have suffered so much during the pandemic, that laughter may indeed be the best medicine. – Yours, etc,




Co Meath.

Sir, – Perhaps if schoolchildren take up golf, and return to school in groups of 81, then the return to education can be handled safely? – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.