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After Kipling

If you can keep smiling despite your headache

If you can keep smiling despite your headache

If you can keep smiling despite your headache

Even when you gave away your last Anadin Ultra;

If you can trust yourself with your A*-C prediction

Even when it's 20 per cent different to maths,

But hold relentless revision sessions

and send relentless emails just to be sure.

If you can avoid for 48 hours the S-word (stress),

the B-word (bullying) and the CP-words (child

protection) and not wear ear muffs;

And being talked about, try not to deal in talk,

Or being hated, don't give way to hating

And yet don't look too good,

Nor talk too wise (that part is easy).

If you can dream about something other than

Of Mice and Men, and not wake with Candy's dog as your headmaster;

If you can think and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Ofsted and Willy Russell and treat those two dream-impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the assembly you've spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the sticker chart you gave your weekend to become unstickered,

And stoop and build it up with worn-out marker pens.

If you can make one heap of all your marking

And lose it on one bonfire of your vanities,

And weep and start again at your beginnings

And share with colleagues the day you lost it;

If you can force your enthusiasm, smile and stamina

To serve your turn long after Year 11 has gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with students and keep your virtue,

Or walk with the senior management team, nor lose the common touch;

If neither irate parents or idle Year 13s can hurt you;

If Every Child Matters, but none too much;

If you can refrain from filling the unforgiving last lesson on Friday with 60 minutes' worth of slaughter,

Yours is the bottle of Stolly and everything that's in it,

And - which is more - you'll be a head of faculty, my daughter.

Genevieve Lovegrove, Head of English, King Edward VII School in Coalville, Leicestershire.

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