A touch of rough justice and some copycat shenanigans

17th February 2012 at 00:00


Sharlene Robinson and Melinda Green have moved on from Greenfield Academy after last month's outrageous attack on our headteacher - she was wrestled to the floor by one of them, then kicked by the other, during a restorative justice session that went sadly awry. Commendably, Rosemary Slater declined to press charges, and even acquiesced to their social workers' requests that the girls be readmitted to school as they were "at greater risk if not attending". But as both of them have failed to attend for any more than two consecutive hours since the assault, the problem of staff refusing to teach them became academic.

Both have now been dispatched to a caring institution more suited to their particular emotional and behavioural needs.

Meanwhile, our printing and copying embargo continues, owing to the outrageously expensive new contract drawn up by the council with Fookarwi Services. The problem has become so intractable that some of our female members of staff have been asking their husbands to get copying done at their offices. It's all very well, but I don't think it's what public- private partnership is supposed to be about - especially when Madeleine Nichol's summary sheets of French irregular verbs all come with the address of a prominent local estate agent at the bottom of the page.


Concern is growing over plans for the introduction of National 45 courses in August. Apparently, we are expected to introduce these courses only three months after final syllabus outlines are issued.

"But I thought we were continuing with a broad general education for this year's second year until they got to the end of third year?" I queried at lunch time.

"Hah!" barked Frank O'Farrell. "Well that's what Education Scotland and SQA would have us think we should be doing, Morris. But they don't have to keep the little darlings motivated with a `broad bloody general education', repeating the tedium of first and second year for a third bloody time, while their parents are demanding that we start getting them ready for their fourth-year exams, and Mrs Slater's casting an eye on the league tables.

"So we're starting them on N5s in August, come hell or high water, even though it'll be like Passchendaele, ploughing through curricular mud with no apparent end in sight, bloodshed and casualties everywhere, and the blind leading the bloody blind!"

"If only we could have stuck with Intermediates a few years back," I observed, "then we could've ignored N5s until they'd got sorted out."

"Indeed," concurred O'Farrell, "and if only I worked for an authority that had the good sense to stuff the new exams where the sun don't shine until they've been properly trialled and tested, then I'd be a happier man!"


My wife's school has similar photocopying frustrations to ours, and with similar solutions - except that in the case of Rockston Primary, with its different staff gender balance, it seems that almost their entire stock of teaching materials is being duplicated by the private industry!

Gail, alas, has no such administrative support from me, so is dependent on the council's arrangement for the primary sector, whereby teachers have to plan their photocopying requirements four weeks in advance, then submit originals plus copy requests to the council offices.

It's supposed to save money, although I can't help wondering how much fuel and salaries are used up by the transportation to head office of countless requests for photocopies. And it all adds to Gail's stress levels, because the requests she submitted 26 days ago for 60 sheets of Ancient Egypt resources has yet to be fulfilled. And she needs them tomorrow.


Gail's photocopies didn't arrive in time.

"It's enough to make you spitting mad, Morris," she - quite literally - spat her fury in my direction. "I jump through every bloody hoop they put in our way to make it more difficult to give the kids a decent educational experience! I prepare my lesson materials four bloody weeks in advance, and send them off to the offices for copying! And when I phone today to ask where they are, as I've got 26 children eagerly awaiting details of how to pull a corpse's brain through its nose before mummification takes place, they tell me: `Sorry. They've been copied for a week now, but we haven't had a driver to deliver them to you.'

"I couldn't believe it, Morris. I just couldn't believe it. I think it's time I retired!"

I don't think I've seen her so dispirited in a long time. Sometimes it's the little things that tip us over the edge.


Mrs Slater has asked us all to prepare syllabus proposals to start teaching N5 courses from next August (she says she's not bothered about N4s, as they won't matter). We have to base our proposals on the "draft course and unit support notes" on the SQA website - but have been told, in the same breath, that we are not allowed to print these 80-plus page documents, as there is no paper to print them on, and, even if there was, there isn't enough ink either.

Frank O'Farrell has already dubbed it the Ryanair Model of curricular reform - print your own syllabus, devise your own curriculum, and pay extra if you want curricular enhancements like new textbooks! And don't listen to any complaints from customers, whether they're parents or teachers, `cos the first lot don't know anything, and the second lot are easily replaceable.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today