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How to really spoil it all by saying something stupid

The autumn term was dreadful. The threat of closure has been hanging over my school for more than a year; staff and students are leaking away, and even the head has just quit the ranks. One of my next tasks is to draw up a contingency plan for the very probable eventuality that by Easter I might have lost half my department. Illness has run amok, the cover list sometimes runs to two pages, and planning things to do in a non-contract period has been an exercise of hope over reality. You might call it stressful.

And yet not only have we held the line, we've even managed to introduce subjects, extra-curricular activities and opportunities for our students, to construct a future that very well may not happen: because that's what professionals do.

And then I come home, turn to the back page of The TES (December 20) and read Hilary Wilce's piece "How to spoil it all by saying something stupid". I really needed that. "Teachers aren't like that these days" appears towards the end, but that hasn't held back Hilary Wilce from joining the long line of bash-the-teachers writers.

I particularly enjoyed the sub-text: George ends up as a gay plaything because his teachers called him stupid. Well, of course. A decade of educational "reforms" has institutionalised this sort of logic amongst those people who have been toying with our children's education. That doesn't make it any less depressing. Happy new year.

How to spoil it all by saying something stupid. Oh yes.

PHILIP D DELNON

79 Broomfield Road Swanscombe, Kent

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