If Gavin Williamson were in Year 9...

Gavin Williamson has failed to turn in his homework – his plans for 2021 GCSEs and A levels – on time. Zoë Crockford gives him a telling off

Zoe Crockford

Teacher, telling off teenage schoolboy in school corridor

Good morning, 9B. How are you all today? OK, settle down. Get your books out. Coats off, bags on the floor. I said coats off. I’ll take those AirPods, thank you. Stop doing that…now.

Right, homework is due in this lesson, so please can you make sure that’s out on your desks as well. 

Stop groaning – you’ve known about this deadline for a while now. It was on Teams; you wrote it in your planners. I gave you a handout. We’ve talked about it every week since it was set. 

But just to remind you yet again: your task was to provide a full set of plans for next year’s GCSE and A-level exams. As part of our new independent learning strategy, you set the deadline for this based on what you thought you could achieve, so I am expecting a full return on this one. It’s coursework, and it goes towards your reported grade this term.

What do you mean, you haven’t got it? Come over here, young man, and speak to me about this.

GCSE and A levels 2021: Where are your plans?

Where are your plans? Who were you working with? Really? Why did you choose Ofqual? You know they’ve been on report all year. Honestly, Gavin, you need to make better choices. 

What’s that? You want to know why I’m not asking Nick about this, because he hasn’t done it, either? 

Gavin, I am speaking to you about this now. This is about you, do you understand? Stop trying to shift the blame. I will deal with any other people who haven’t met this deadline later, but I can only speak to one person at a time.

Look at me when I am speaking to you, and stop slouching. This is really disappointing, Gavin. You know how many staff were involved with this. We were all looking forward to hearing what you had been working on, but now we can’t move forward with anything. Have you any idea how frustrating this is? 

I don’t expect you to understand how your actions affect others in this instance, because you are not a teacher. But then, if you had done your homework, you would have taken the time to find out a bit more about the brief.

What do you mean Ofqual said you didn’t need to do anything? If Ofqual told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?

Bad attitude

Looking at my mark book, I can see that you haven’t exactly been consistent with grades this year. You know my rules. You will need to come to a breaktime detention. What do you mean you “just won’t turn up”? Don’t try and give me that bad attitude. We both know you can turn this around, but if you do choose to miss your first detention, it will turn into a lunchtime, then an after-school, then a head’s detention with Mr Johnson. That’s normally something I’d say you should try to avoid, but he does seem inexplicably fond of you. So maybe you’ll get off lightly. 

But apart from all of that, I still need the work to be done. When is that going to happen? I really don’t see why I should give you any time in school to do this, so I will be phoning your parents to ask them to make sure you complete it at home before the end of term, OK?

Sorry, what was that? Can you stop mumbling? Yes, I do think it will affect your options next year. 

Look, Gavin, you’re a bright lad but you need to raise your game. Being reliable and meeting deadlines are important life skills. It may not seem a big deal to you now, but out there in the real world if you can’t keep your word and do your job properly, your employer won’t be too happy. 

What’s that? You think your approach set you up nicely for a position in the Cabinet? OK, I see you may have a point there – but, anyway. Yes.

I want you to go back to your seat and get on with your work. And I want to see you making more of an effort from now on. A lot of teachers have their hopes pinned on you, you know.

Zoë Crockford is an art teacher at a secondary school in Bournemouth

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