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Don't dis my octupus, Miss

A life in the year of Emily Shark."Emily, we've had a complaint. Have you got a moment?"

"Er, not really, Alison, I've got a - "

"Shouldn't take long. See you in my office in five minutes."

This is bad. Alison Tenk only comes out of hiding for parents or cake.

"Oh, Emily, did Alison find you? She was in the head's corridor just now, seemed rather fraught."

"Yup, Melinda, she did."

"Good luck! Here, you'd better take Ryan's notes on your lesson. They may have something to do with it."

"That little twerp! I've been asking him to do this for weeks."

"Do I detect some resentment of youth? I know it's hard to take criticism from someone so much younger, but - "

"What does he mean, I'm too hardline about chairs? And I did not 'disrespect' Kirsty's suggestion about the jellyfish. She had a go at the question and she was wrong - so what? Damn, I haven't got time to read all this now."

"Sorry, I just assumed he'd given it to you - oh, here he is. Ryan, next time, do be a tad quicker with your paperwork. I don't mind, but you'd better watch out for Emily here. See you!"

Into the lion's den ...

"Right, as I say, Emily, we've had a complaint. From a Year 7 parent."

"Which one?"

"I'm afraid I can't tell you that. They don't want me to."

"Why not?"

"They think you might take it out on the child concerned."

"What? When have I ever done that?"

"Ah, I know that, but they don't, do they? Now, just let me tell you what the complaint is about. Basically, it's the way you communicate with your pupils."

Oh, right. So nothing huge, then.

"Your written remarks on their work can be a bit harsh, you know. And now I have Mr Egoe's report - "

"What do you mean, 'Mr Egoe's report'? He was just observing me because he's a new teacher, and - "

"Ah, remember PAAA - Professionals Are Always Accountable! It doesn't matter where the evidence comes from."

"OK, let's hear it."

"Right. Mr Egoe says you told Jamie his grammar octopus was 'a total mess'."

"Well, it was! He did one question, then started chewing it."

"Yes, but what about praise? You win more bees with honey, you know."

"The bees know when you're lying to them. They - they - "

Come on, Shark! Keep fighting ...

"All I'm saying is that we want to keep an eye on things. Make sure no parent has any cause for concern. Now, I shall observe the odd lesson, and Melinda has kindly offered to pop in as well. I'll tell you more next week. And just remember, we're all here to help you."

Yeah, I feel the love. What about your sodding communication skills, dumping this on me on a Friday afternoon?

More from Emily in a fortnight.

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