After 15 years as a teaching assistant, I was working as an unqualified teacher in Year 1 at a challenging school in Essex. Ofsted was in for three days, back in the time when inspectors watched a whole lesson, and I had been observed to death.
The inspector was still writing her notes in the corner of the room at the end of the day and the children had all gone home. I was ready to collapse. Looming through the door came the parent from hell. His beery breath suggested he had come straight from the pub. His daughter was always dirty, full of headlice and with a classroom-permeating odour of stale urine. Gran had been removed by social services for lack of care.
"Why are you always picking on my girl? We treated her for lice last week and now the office says she has them again. She must be getting them from another kid," shouted her father. Anger oozed out of his pores with the alcohol as he towered over me. I looked around for back-up from the inspector as she sidled out of the room.
Taking a deep breath, I gently suggested that they needed to wash the bed sheets when they treated her, to stop re-infection (even though I knew she slept on a mattress with no duvet cover).
He looked crestfallen. "Oh, we never knew that," he said, his shoulders slumped. He took a step nearer and breathed down into my face, squaring his shoulders, I could see he was ready for another onslaught.
Dragging the poor child forwards he shouted: "Look at her, tell me where the headlice are, she don't have 'em."
And there, abseiling down her fringe was the fattest headlouse I had ever seen. I swear it was smirking at us. Case closed. They left.
The writer is a junior school class teacher in Essex.