Desperate for a Ms P

10th January 1997 at 00:00
The school relied on the young teacher. Everyone was very, very happy. But a new head with his new ways arrived. And no one was happy any more

Once upon a time, there was a young geography teacher called Ms P. She got a job in a good school, and she worked very, very hard. Soon geography became one of the most popular subjects in the school; lots of pupils took it and did well, very well, in their exams.Ms P took them on field trips, mapping expeditions and social studies' outings to help them with their geography.

As well as being a good geography teacher, Ms P was also a good chess player and so she started a chess club. Lots of pupils joined the chess club and they won lots of competitions.

One day, the headteacher was in a bit of a state, becuse the chief timetabler was leaving, and he did no know what to do. He called his deputy who said: "What about Ms P?" "What a good idea," said the headteacher.

So Ms P became the chief timetabler. But she did not know that chief timetablers should really ask for a bit of extra time or even a bit of extra money, and nobody told her.

So she did the timetable as well as teaching all her pupils geography, and lots of pupils chess. Silly Ms P.

The timetables were splendid, and everyone was very happy with them, so Ms P was happy too.

Time passed and the senior mistress was leaving. The headteacher was in a bit of a state and he did not know what to do, so he called his deputy who said: "What about Ms P?" "What a good idea," said the headteacher.

So Ms P became the senior mistress and she was a very good senior mistress. She believed in using people's strengths and not abusing their weaknesses, in explaining her position and discussing difficulties. Everyone was very, very happy.

But one day, the headteacher, who was very old, had to leave, and a new headteacher arrived, who knew much more than the old headteacher and Ms P put together. He started a building programme so that everyone could have lots more room and be more efficient. He showed the plans to Ms P who immediately spotted a few serious mistakes. With a few strokes of the pen, she altered them.

The new headteacher was very pleased, and took the plans back and told everyone how he had changed them.

He often used to tell people how clever he was, and they believed him.

Then one day, the new headteacher was in a bit of a state, because the deputy head was leaving, and he did not know what to do, so he began to think about it.

He asked lots of people, who all said: "What about Ms P?" "But we must go through the procedures," said the new headteacher.

"Of course," said everyone, "quite right." So they did.

Now Ms P, who was a very good senior mistress and a very good chief timetabler and a very good head of geography, and a very good head of chess club, had one major fault.

She never told anyone how clever she was. Silly Ms P!

Well the day dawned for the appointment of the new deputy head, and along came some very smart people.

They were all trained in how to sound important and tell people how clever they were, so poor Ms P, who thought that giving pupils a good education and managing staff so that they were happy was important, did not get a look in.

The new deputy head came and he only taught a few periods a week because he was very clever and important. He had to spend lots of time producing bulletins and lists, and telling people what to do, and making them all feel just a little bit worried and inferior.

The new headteacher and the governors all thought that he was excellent. "Excellent fellow," they were often heard to say.

Meanwhile, Ms P continued to run the school, and the geography department and the timetable and the chess club, and treated everyone with diplomacy and kindness, so that they all felt a little less worried and inferior.

And still she never, never told anyone how clever she was. Silly Ms P!

The author is a teacher on Merseyside

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