The wisdom of Henry Walpole
Spring holidays - so it must be the annual snooze-fest that is the National Union of Teachers' conference. And what were my comrades asking the Government for this year? Reduced workload, higher-than-inflation pay rises, and a limit of 20 on all class sizes. But the reports I read failed to say whether the union had formalised its other demands for the magic education pixies to visit schools at breaktime to give all teachers a cappuccino and a small bag of diamonds.
If teachers could have anything, what would be on their wish-list? What do teachers really dream about? Ignoring that odd sub-group of primary teachers - those middle-aged cat-lovers whose only demand would be to have more time to cut and double-mount letters for display - I have some suggestions:
1. An envelope marked "Christmas Bonus" appearing in your pigeonhole.
2. The Government falling behind on its own target to set more targets and sacking itself.
3. Arriving at an urgent parental meeting to have the school's "angry dad" say you were right all along about his child and he has removed the DVD player from his room and stopped his pocket money for the next year.
4. Absolutely anybody (from the Secretary of State downwards) who has a say in education policy being forced to work as a teacher for two days a week.
5. A lead inspector telling your head on the last day of inspection: "I can't be bothered to write a report. It's enough that your teachers turn up every day and teach this bunch of psychopaths."
6. Scientists finally developing self-marking books.
7. Your super-expensive wall stapler lost on day two of the autumn term returned with a "sorry" note and a box of chocs.
8. Heads returning from conferences without a load of "really great ideas" for everyone to carry out.
9. Design and technology and religious education removed from the primary curriculum to alleviate that feeling of guilt at the end of term when you realise that you are still on lesson one.
10. An in-service trainer suddenly pausing in front of his PowerPoint to say: "You know, I'm wasting my time. This is all really obvious, or totally unfounded management consultancy bullshit. Why don't you all have an hour's teabreak to catch up on what you did in the holidays?"
11. Oh, and the school heating system turned off before June 1 ...
Just dreams? If you're patient, good things can happen. Several years ago, the worst pupil I have ever taught borrowed my stapler after lengthy safety warnings. I heard giggling from the back of the class, an ominous "thunk", and then a scream. I'm not sure what education experts would advise you should do when presented with a pale Year 5 pupil with a staple buried deep in her thumb, but I opted for uncontrollable laughter, while trying to indicate in sign language that she should go to the "welfare room".
Thank you magic education pixies, thank you. That moment has kept me in teaching for another 10 years.
More from Henry in a fortnight.