LAST week, Big Brother mania seized the nation. This week, The TES Scotland is thrilled to report on the final stages of Educational Big Brother . . .
Yes, seven weeks ago, eight members of the educational community were locked up together. And if you thought that our colleagues at the Soaraway Sun got over-excited about last week's shenanigans, just wait until you hear what we at the Tearaway TESS have got to say this week!
It's been a frantic seven weeks. We supported Ken from Glasgow. But then he blew it. Frankly, we think the production team has given the participants an admirable set of living conditions. But not Ken. Oh no! We supported him in week one as he strove for greater privacy in the bathrooms, but he went way beyond his remit when he invited an external private finance initiative to redesign the entire house and remove the jacuzzi in favour of three meeting areas for senior management.
Then we threw our full weight behind Gregor, a People's Champion from Biggar. He told good jokes, and we liked his cheeky style (even if he should have kept his robe on when he came out of the shower).
But let's face it! Girnin' Gregor became a real bore, with his nose stuck in a car manual every minute of the day. The only topic of conversation he had was cars - and Skoda cars at that! Get a life, Gregor!
Our next People's Champion was Poor Pat, a headteacher from Edinburgh. He had a great start: down to earth, sharp edge and no nonsense.
Just the kind of guy who should win Educational Big Brother - even if the prize money amounted to less than a year's salary! But Pat's days were numbered from the moment he questioned whether Elegant Eleanor from Renfrewshire was as poorly as she claimed to be.
"Is she really sick?" he foolishly confided in the Diary Room. "Or is she just trying to win viewer sympathy - and votes?" You gave Pat the answer, and booted him out at the end of Week Three.
And that was ironic, because Eleanor herself got turfed out in Week Four. It turned out she had been feigning illness all along, with a supposed psychosomatic disorder designed to ascertain whether "these educational psychologists know what they're talking about before I recommend a whacking pay increase", as she memorably confided in the Diary Room. Well, a lot of you seemed to want to put a halt to any likely pay increase for educational psychologists, so you sent Eleanor her marching orders as well.
Next it was Jealous John's turn. At the start of Week Five, this genial Ayrshire giant made his feelings plain about directorate salary levels.
"It's simply not fair," he pleaded. "My colleagues and I are in charge of the education services across Scotland - and some of our members earn less than the people they're in charge of!" Clearly, nearly everyone agreed that John and his colleagues were paid well enough, so you made your feelings plain on the voting lines.
And last week Boasting Bill hit the road. Yes, we know that he thinks his examination board's going to come up smelling of roses in a fortnight. But do you really want him in the house sneering "I told you so!" - and counting his performance-related bonus in front of your very eyes? Apparently not! So you've got two choices left tonight when you pick up those telephones - Jumping Jack Mac, or Wicked Wendy. And we know who we want to win. Let's face it: Wendy's made three separate announcements in the course of the competition promising enormous sums of money for adult learning initiatives.
Trouble is, they were all talking about the same money! And we, the viewers, don't take kindly to that kind of sharp practice, Wendy! So get on the phones now and vote for Jumping Jack. Higher pay for teachers? You've got it! No diminution in holidays? You've got it! Continuing professional development? Well, OK - nothing's perfect!
(As The TES Scotland went to press, it was reported that, as a result of a late surge of publicity activity, Wicked Wendy looked set to make a surge all of her own. In the event of Wendy winning Educational Big Brother, The TESS would like to make it clear that we have backed her from the very start. Wendy has always had the makings of an EBB winner, and we have never failed to declare our allegiance for whomsoever we thought most likely to win. So don't say we didn't tell you . . .)