From the forums - Futile cover tasks, profligate sons and scary santas

12th November 2010 at 00:00
Supply sins are brought to book, while phone bills and Saint Nicholas are causing concern

Supply teachers rejoice: you have a new hero - magic surf bus, who switched to supply this term after 25 years spent teaching full-time in the classroom. He has been sharing his thoughts in the TES online staffroom about some of the cover lessons left by fellow teachers.

Classics include getting children to design a poster or newspaper front page - "ie, spend an hour of their lives filling in a blank sheet of A4 with a half-hearted drawing and a few scribbled words that they will never finish and you will never mark" - and completing an exam paper under test conditions - "like that is going to happen with a group of youngsters I've never met before in my life".

Word searches seem to be particularly popular - among regular teachers, that is. "Languages staff are by far the worst culprits," he says. "One bottom-set kid said to me, 'Whenever Miss is away she always sets us word searches because we're thick.' I wanted to reply, 'No son, she sets you word searches because she's lazy.'"

But his biggest gripe is with the "Go on the internet and find ..." lesson. "Would you take a school trip to the British Library and tell the students to 'find out about cheese' and then let them loose?" he asks. "People who set that as a cover lesson deserve a sound slap and compulsory re-education in proper internet use." We sense a campaign coming on.

It can be a poignant moment for parents when their children leave home, but some can see the bright side. There was a big drop in the phone bill when ResourceFinder's son moved out. "We were paying #163;124.50 per month and from December 1 we will be paying #163;32 AND there is #163;486 going back into our account this week."

Daffodilval also saw a big reduction in bills when her 21-year-old son flew the nest, but it seems the respite will be short: "He informed me tonight that he is coming back home as he wants to save money!"

This reminds Lilyofthefield of a school where the phone line in her department was monitored to find out why the bill was so high: "One of the teaching assistants was on one of those premium astrology lines. She presumably didn't see a formal warning and a bill for the calls in the stars."

That all lies in the future for Dande. A more pressing concern is whether her two-year-old daughter is too young to go to see Santa. Dipsue took her one-year-old grandson last year and says it all went well. He looked a bit wary, but "happily grabbed the pressie". Dinx67 has photos of her children sitting on Santa's knee from every year up until they were five. That is not to say they enjoyed it, though. "In all of them they are either terrified and trying to climb off or red-faced and sobbing," she says. Perhaps children know more than we give them credit for.

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