Jade and Alex meet Big Heidie

Given the current obsession with reality television, you could be forgiven for wondering when we will get the first school-based eviction programme. Many would enjoy a management equivalent of Big Brother, with the first prize being either a gong in the next honours list, employment as an HMI or an all-expenses paid lecture tour of the former communist bloc.

You could imagine the search for stereotypes. Who could match the instant populist appeal of a Jade, or attract the following of Alex?

After the weeding out of the applicants, we might be left with the following six staffroom mates.

First up is Jen, the Bridget Jones of Bridge of Allan. Jen is a product of the airport bookshop school of management theory. She is determined to run her school with one aim in mind - career advancement. She once taught a P1 class, but the little dears ruined her suit.

She visits classes wearing gloves, and her main concern is with the co-ordination of shoes, brooch and scarf. Well-manicured hands bear testimony to her aversion to paint, clay, Plasticine and child contact.

Doug is the management equivalent of the football pundit. He taught once, was allegedly quite good at it, but now lives on the myths and memories. His headship was based on his ability to run the sports, deal with unruly P7 boys and work the electrics at the Christmas plays.

He is a stranger to the curriculum, but has learnt to bluff his way through awkward encounters with HMI and directorate visitors. Parents love him, and he is the life and soul of PTA functions.

Sue (known affectionately as Runaround) is barely together. If heads were sponsored, Sue would wear a suit with Rothmans on the back. She has discovered 50 ways to take a cigarette break in a non-smoking establishment. She makes tick lists of tick lists, and manages to survive on the Lena Martell philosophy - one day at a time.

Staff now don't bother her, and avoid confusing her with facts, opinions or statistics. They run the school for her. Sue is always busy, always tired and always obliging. She would do anything for anybody, and older staff can remember when she once made a decision. Only those who have retired can remember her sticking to it.

Jim is from the Thomas Cook school of management. Pupils are often shown his photograph to see if they can recognise him. Few succeed, and many confuse him with the President of Poland. He will do anything not to be there. He is a serial committee member, and he bemoans the change in regulations which denied him the opportunity of standing as a councillor.

He fills the yawning void between dawn and dusk by attending union meetings, Rotary events, working parties and exhibitions. The advent of continuing professional development will give Jim's activities a new legitimacy. He pays supertax on his expenses claim.

Norma is a grandmother, and an even grander teacher. She loves children, and is the best teacher her colleagues have ever seen. Norma is respected by her pupils and adored by the parents in the village. Despite her advancing years, she displays boundless energy and her school is a model of community involvement.

She has struggled to keep up with a new vocabulary of curriculum-speak and psycho-babble, but can talk from experience and with conviction. She is a genuinely nice person, humble and unassuming.

The last member of the staffroom is Alan. He is immersed in management, but not in leadership. His room is wall to wall ring-binders and he absorbs every new gadget, every new management technique and every piece of jargon known to man and beast.

He has no soul, no spark and no friends. Staff meetings are seen as an obstacle to be overcome, while management meetings are his way of telling his acolytes what he has already decided. He sees himself as a good manager, and, on paper, he runs a good school. Order, order everywhere and not a drip to think.

These are the inmates, and our presenter will no doubt engineer confrontation, incident and controversy. Who will run away? Who will crack under the relentless boredom? Who will sell their story to The TES Scotland? Who will fall in love? Who cares?

Would you watch Big Heidie? Truth?

Jannie Jim

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