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E for extremely annoyed

Goodness gracious, some letters make you cross, don't they? This one, which I received from a 16-year-old Sri Lankan student who had been in the country less than two years, certainly did. It went (verbatim, including punctuation) as follows:

"Dear Mrs Palmer Sayer, I'm an apprentice who was stuck in the middle of two languages. You are the angel who pulled me out from that muddy puddle. Actually, Miss, you are the best teacher I ever had. I know I have met many teachers, but you, you are the best of all of them. I never have met a teacher so kind, intelligent or helpful like you; you are a mother to me in Hertswood."

His letter didn't stop there - it went on for two pages. It covered his apology: "I'm really sorry for letting you down in the last exam. I know that's the worst thing I could have done and I'm really sorry for it." I hadn't helped in its construction and it wasn't without fault, but it still made me incandescent with rage. Why? Because its author, in this summer's debacle, was awarded a grade E in English language. He got an A* in maths, a string of As in sciences, but an E grade in English.

Jan Palmer Sayer, Headteacher, Hertswood Arts College, Borehamwood.

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