The Head's View - Staff need that festive X Factor

Ray Tarleton

Apparently teachers "enjoy" 1,500 interactions every day. That's without the email. Any other profession would be on a go slow but, strangely, we always think we are doing too little. We fill our days and work nights too. Then, at the end of a long term, just when we are on the point of collapse, along comes Christmas, or whatever we are calling it this year, with its demand that we be of good cheer. The staff may be shattered but the pupils are increasingly hyped up and turbocharged.

The only answer is to join in the festive spirit and have some fun. So the school is holding its breath as we await our very own The X Factor talent contest on the last afternoon of term.

YouTube already has the trailer for what may be one of our talent show highlights. Amazingly, the number of hits from the pupils has actually put it in the top 100 watched clips. Eight cool teachers from an alternative universe that shares our school uniform are transformed into living zombies as they perform a dance routine to "Thriller, Tease 2". The ninth, a head teacher in normal life, wearing wig, gown and face paint, recites blood-curdling opening lines in his best Vincent Price voice. Typecasting?

But beware. This will make your blood tingle, your skin creep and your eyes pop. I have advised the staff not to come near the dance studio alone after dark, unless they enjoy the sound of torture. No ... those are not the cries of another class in detention: just our final rehearsals for our The X Factor competition.

There is plenty of talent here, as in any school, and the pupils will be out to beat us. The Sound of Music hit the stage last week with a cast so large that Captain Von Trapp had to cope with 14 children instead of seven, the two Marias were a problem to be solved by a convent of 80 nuns; and there were enough Nazi soldiers to take over Devon and Cornwall. See what we are up against.

At the evening carol service, the choir and orchestra performances remind us that Christmas is about to start. I understand why so many of us enjoy working here: the wonderful young people and the remarkable standards they achieve. The Christmas message of joy and hope fills the hall, as it will again next week for the repeat performance on the final morning of term.

Then it will be on to the talent hunting. If my "Thriller" team doesn't win, the judges should be afraid. Very afraid.

Afterwards, I will be looking forward to my next appointment. It will be with a Christmas turkey and a bottle of wine. My interactions will be mainly with the sofa and the telly. But I won't be tuning in to the repeat run of The Sound of Music or The X Factor.

Ray Tarleton, Principal, South Dartmoor Community College, Ashburton, Devon.

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Ray Tarleton

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