Chantelle stops short of a Lorraine Bobbit

16th March 2007 at 00:00

Ruth Gibbon has issued an edict forbidding our senior pupils to leave their vehicles in the school car park, and for once our headteacher has the unqualified support of all her staff.

For one thing, our appallingly designed PPP school doesn't have enough staff car parking spaces, plus the area is not separated from pupils - and the way that some of the sixth years drive, that's a fairly serious health and safety issue. But mainly it's because too many of the newly registered Minis, Sports Fiestas and Corsas put most of our staff cars to shame... Tuesday

A "please take" for Mr Walsh of computing proved a difficult affair, due largely to the fact that our growing school population means I am no longer able to identify every child in a year group, especially first year. Even worse, they are no longer able to identify me, so my reputation for strict discipline does not always precede me.

"Haw! Ur youse a subby, sur?" bawled out one particularly uncouth child as I entered the computing suite.

I denied the suggestion and introduced myself as Mr Simpson, a full-time member of staff for 23 years, whereupon the said child - Brian Niven, I later discovered - broke into a broad grin and laughed out loud: "Haw! So youse ur Simpy, ur youse?", after which he turned round to face the rest of the class and put both thumbs in the air.

Of course, I became suspicious at once, and told them to get on with the work that had been set. Unsurprisingly, they denied the existence of any such tasks, so I swiftly pointed out the instructions I had been told would be left on the whiteboard.

Unfortunately, these appeared to be a completely incomprehensible set of programming instructions in small white type on a black screen, with the phrase "Go to" and the word "ping" appearing several times, but little else that I could understand in the way of English. Instantly realising there had been dirty work at the crossroads, so to speak, and probably by Brian bloody Niven, I made rapid adjustment and told them that Mr Walsh had given me a last-minute change of plan and wanted them to conduct some internet research instead.

Niven's eyes narrowed. "Oh aye? Did he now? Mr Walsh nivvur usually lets us dae that."

"Well, he does today," I assured him. "He wants you to research... er... " I hesitated in search of a suitably educational and uplifting topic, "I he wants you to research A Curriculum for Excellence. It's an exciting educational development that's going to affect all of you dramatically in your next five years at Greenfield Academy, and you should know all about it!"

It seemed to have the desired effect. Most of them were nearly asleep by the end of the lesson.


I stayed late this afternoon and was surprised to see a group of fifth year pupils in class with Mr Muir, who noticed my enquiring eyebrows as I passed his door, and came over for a quick chat.

"Detention?" I whispered quietly. "They seem very quiet for a detention class."

"No, no, Morris," he smiled indulgently. "These are the fast track pupils for higher attainment at Higher - the Greenfield Excellerators Programme, remember?"

"Ah yes," I recalled. "This is our head's scheme to select a group of 15 pupils who are just the wrong side of a B or an A grade in Higher, give them extra study resources with specialist funding, and all of it designed to give us better conversion rates and raise our standing in the school league tables that don't exist. Except they do."

"Well, that's one way of putting it," Muir conceded, "but aren't you missing...?"

"I'm missing nothing, Kevin," I interrupted. "I just wish that my classes could get some of that money, and then they could afford to have a book each instead of sharing one between three!"

I think I'd made my point, so did not wait for an answer.


I have been studying recent entries on the RateMyTeachers website, to which I am drawn like a moth to a flame. Another anonymous student has added derogatory ratings, but I have been heartened enormously by an entry from former pupil Rose McShane. Touchingly, she has accorded me legendary status in her assessment of my teaching skills; in fact, "best teecher eva!" were her exact words, and they made me purr with satisfaction.


Mr Walsh was absent again today (a problem with a leaking shower and a collapsed ceiling, apparently) so I found myself losing yet another non-contact period.

This time my temporary charges were from second year and were, alas, only too well known to me. However, I thought that an easier time lay in store as all I had to do was show them a DVD about the use of computers in everyday life, and everything did indeed seem well until it came time to send the DVD back to Mrs Walker's class, whence it had been borrowed.

Picking the nearest pupil, I asked Jason Bonetti to do the honours, but soon lived to regret my selection as I saw Chantelle McLuskey, a vicious, brooding adolescent, sit nursing her wrath when Bonetti departed.

"That's no ferr, sur," she complained after a few minutes. "That's ma joab, tae tekk any vidjos ur DVDs back tae Mrs Walker."

"I'm sorry," I smiled light-heartedly as Jason returned, "I didn't realise it was - Chantelle!" I shouted in horror as she lunged from her seat, pinned Bonetti by the neck and thrust him against the classroom wall, her right knee hovering near his groinal area.

"See yoo, Jason!" she threatened angrily. "If youse ever derr tae dae that again, ahm goanny part yoor eggs fur ye!" after which emasculating threat she turned away and let him slump to the floor.

It was a new one on me, I have to admit. Let's just hope that in later life she never gets to hear about Lorraine BobbitI

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