Fall in and learn ... At the double!
Right, you 'orrible lot, get stood up straight. Hands to your sides, elbows in, heads up.
Are you our new teacher?
You speaking to me, laddie? Forgotten a little word, have we?
Please Sir, are you our new teacher, Sir?
That's better, sunshine. The Government thinks us chaps from the armed forces are needed in the classroom, so I've been fast-tracked into here. We're going to double to the hall, double round it, and then do some bloody hard work with the vaulting box.
Please Sir, can you tell me why ...
Silence, laddie. Speak when you're spoke to. Now then 5E, atten ... wait for it ... shun! By the left, marching down the corridor, 'eft 'ight, 'eft 'ight ... round that hall three times, on the double ...
Please Sir, our last teacher let us take things at our own pace ...
Personalised learning, was it? Well, we mustn't forget personalised learning, must we? What's your favourite subject, sonny?
Excellent. Get that piano moved out of the corner so we've got more room to run around. Go on lad, push it; don't tickle it.
Please Sir, could you tell us why ...
Silence when you're speaking to me! Why are you so small? Are you eating your meat, greens and potatoes proper? What's your name, lad?
Jones, Sir. I don't like school dinner very much.
Don't like school dinner? Well, you need more practice eating it. Get down to the cookhouse and tell cook you're peeling all the spuds this morning. Look at the rest of you, pantin' and groanin' like a lot of lily-livered daffodils swayin' in the breeze. What are you?
Lily-livered daffodils swayin' in the breeze, Sir.
Stand up straight, get fell in and line up in the corridor for inspection. You, boy. Name?
William Stickers, Sir.
Well, Stickers, your parents were 'avin' a larf, weren't they? Bill Stickers will be prosecuted, geddit? A little joke to show I've got a sense of humour. Get those shoulders heavin', ha ha ha. Stickers, your hair's too long. Get it cut.
My mum likes it this length, Sir. She says it keeps the sun off my neck because I get this nasty rash, you see ...
What are you, Stickers, some kind of nancy boy? And your mum ain't in charge. I am. Get it cut. You, boy, what do you call that?
My tie, Sir.
Looks like a string off a yoyo. Your shirt's hanging out, you ain't seen soap for a week and I can't see a crease in your trousers. You won't be a hit with the wimmin looking like the Wreck of the Hesperus. What do you look like?
The Wreck of the Hesperus, Sir.
Exactly. Now then, it's science this morning. Touch your toes, look at your shoes, what do you see?
Our laces, Sir.
Exactly. But that ain't what you should be seein'. What you should be seein' is your faces in your shoes. That's called reflection. You ain't seein' a reflection because your shoes ain't spick and span. I'm givin' you all a toothbrush and a cloth and a bit of a polish, and by 11 o'clock I want them shoes so smart you can see your pimples in 'em.
Sir, please Sir, can you tell us why ...
That's five times you've interrupted me, laddie. What is it?
Well, Sir, I don't understand why you're wearing that helmet covered in flowers ...
Ain't you got no common sense, son? It's all about knowing your enemy and using camouflage. Don't want to lose my job, so if Ofsted walk in here all I've got to do is stand in the corner and they'll think I'm a pot plant.
Mike Kent is headteacher at Comber Grove Primary, Camberwell, south London. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.