ITV News’ political editor Robert Peston has been told to go back to school after saying teachers did “not very much teaching” during lockdown.
The senior broadcast journalist made the eyebrow-raising claim in a series of tweets poring over official data on the economy, released on Wednesday.
He suggested that rising inflation was being driven, in part, by massive government spending to ensure the UK economy did not tank.
Peston went on to ponder whether the trend was underpinned by “the government paying teachers for not very much teaching, when lockdown closed schools”.
The journalist has 1.1m followers on Twitter, and what you might generously describe as taking his brain for a walk did not go down well on the social media platform.
Even one of the ultimate Westminster insiders – Larry the Cat, or at least a Twitter account with 400,000-plus followers claiming to be the former Downing Street feline – could not come to his defence.
The broadcaster moved to clarify his comments as the backlash continued and the number of comments massively outstripped the retweets and likes – the dreaded ratio-ing.
But there was a “don’t shoot the messenger” energy to his sort of mea culpa as he insisted teachers’ “productivity is impaired by lock down”.
The BBC’s former business editor was leaning into the strict economic definition of “productivity”, rather than displaying a more empathetic understanding of teachers being “productive” as they grappling with mass virtual learning and pastoral care that doubtless went above and beyond the call of duty.
The Guardian reported last year about “Britain’s teacher heroes” during lockdown, detailing how one teacher created his own YouTube character and another took students on virtual walks.