From a shot at retirement to snaps of 'Salmonella Special'

18th May 2012 at 01:00


Frank O'Farrell is going ahead with plans to start teaching National 5 courses this August, despite our head's warnings about the consequences to his faculty budget if he continues to flaunt her firmly expressed injunction that "N5 courses will start in June 2013, and not a week before."

Frank's stand against the "3+3" model has been a lonely one, but a number of departments are beginning to feel similar unease, now that syllabus outlines have been finalised. Mr Greig, for example, has been moved to comment that in all of the three sciences for which he is responsible, "they've rehashed Intermediate, with a big dollop of S Grade - and there's at least two years' worth of work to get through for each one!"

I'm just glad I teach English. When there's no actual linear content to get through, it makes fudging things so much easier .


My daughter Margaret is on private study leave - an occasion which seems to demand a lot of leave, a great deal of privacy, and precious little studying. But who am I - as her father and a practising teacher - to judge her level of commitment? She told me tonight to "chill out, Dad, and worry about your own pupils. I'll be fine."

I shook my head and left for the Rockston Arms to meet "Coarse Davie" McManus, formerly PT biology who took early retirement last year. It was a depressing evening: all that Davie could do was talk about how he "doesn't know how he ever found the time to work", what with all the things he's doing at home, and the holidays he's taking at cut-price times of year.

"And what's more," he added gleefully, "last month I got news from the pensions people that my salary's gone up by 5.2 per cent, in line with inflation. Not bad, eh, Morris? What did you get in the annual pay round?"

I reminded him sharply that our pay had been frozen for the second year running and asked him to change the subject away from salary increases. So, instead, he started on about the luxury cruise he was on last week!

My God, you can go off some people.


Mrs Slater is fed up with having her "guarantee repair" bills challenged by Kostuss, the PPP company that built and maintains - at great expense to this and future generations - our new school. As headteacher, she feels that she has more important things to do than fight petty battles with the facilities team over every incident of simple guarantee renewal, at least 80 per cent of which Kostuss claims to be the result of "malicious damage" by our students.

Which might be fair enough on some occasions (the recent notorious smashing of two sinks in the boys' toilets comes to mind), but Rosemary Slater tells us that even the simplest of standard wear-and-tear repairs are being presented as malicious damage, and therefore fully charged back to the school's overstretched budgets, rather than the facilities team's outstandingly generous one.

That is why she now dispatches Mr Dallas, our head janitor, with a digital camera to record every such incident of damage - "ever since," she explained in triumph, "they said that the reason the plasterwork behind Mrs Jackson's door was damaged was because the door had been pushed too hard against the door stop - and I explained that this was exactly what doorstops were there to prevent happening, and they couldn't do that with a half-inch screw holding the door stop in place - as per my accompanying picture!"

This must be the kind of forward thinking she was taught at the SQH course she attended, before getting Greenfield Academy's top job.


A CPD course for probationers this afternoon has seen our healthy complement of young staff depart the premises. This, coupled with an inability to recruit supply staff since their daily pay rate was overtaken by Asda shelf-stackers, meant depute head Frank Atkinson was drafted in to take a class for the first time this session.

I believe the rumours were highly exaggerated - but they did say he was asking the office where he could find a Gestetner machine to run off some copies of a worksheet he was going to distribute.


The enthusiasm of Mr Dallas to make digital records of every potential repair incident reached its apotheosis this afternoon, when he was summoned to the C Floor corridor after reports of a "fouling incident". Armed with his requisite cleansing bucket, sand, sanitary gloves and cleaning fluids, he arrived at the scene of an unfortunate incident involving Sandra Fitzgerald of S2 and the aftermath of a particularly dodgy burger - already nicknamed a "Salmonella Special" by her classmates - from "Dan's Van", the regular off-premises catering facility preferred by many of our students for luncheon appointments.

It was, by all accounts, a particularly spectacular mountain of regurgitated food. And such is our janitor's dedication to record every incident of property injury that his immediate, and most basic, instinct came unbidden to the fore.

"Right, stan back frae that, the lot o' youse," he called out to Sandra's assembled classmates.

"Ach, ye spoilsport," chipped Douglas Kennedy. "Are youse goanny clear it up?"

Mr Dallas shook his head, firmly, took out the schools' Canon Ixus 70 - and started snapping.

I wonder what the chemist will say when we send them for developing?

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