Have a drink on Jack Sheet

21st September 2001 at 01:00
HEY all you probationers, NQTs and students, wanna hear about a school where the working conditions just improved beyond all recognition? Am I talking about our recent pay rise? A flexible, department-led after-school replacement for PAT? The implementation of post-HMI recommendations? Nope to all of these. It's a water-at-work machine that has flooded my professional life with light and joy.

Ever since I watched Kojak and Starsky and Hutch as a boy I have been fascinated by these things. At first I took them to be an example of American stupidity. Why have a machine that looked like a thin, bald Dalek gloop-glooping in the corner of your office when you could get water from a tap?

That was before I realised that taps in any sort of public building dispense a mixture of lead, chlorine and dead pigeons suspended in a clear liquid of dubious origin. But now we have got one and the Stateside cop-show fantasy can kick in.

No longer am I thin, bald, mild-mannered Gregor Steele. I'm tough-talking, laid-back Jack Sheet, maverick, rule-bending but loyal to myself and my profession. If you don't know Jack Sheet, you don't know nothing.

Instead of picking up my registration sheet and scurrying off to check my e-mail before the kids arrive, I begin each day by lounging around the staffroom with my scruffy colleagues while a member of the senior management team briefs us on the day ahead."We got rumours of something big going down among the third year on the science corridor. Sheet - I want you and Nelson to check it out.

"And hey, hey, hey! Let's be careful out there!". Then it's off to do it to them before they do it to us. "OK 1C1, who hasn't brought in the tear-off slip from their report card? Put your hands up and turn around very slowly. I said slowly, you mother . . ."

Aye, well maybe not. But listen up, probationers, NQTs and students. The American police can teach us a thing or two. They have identified something called John Wayne syndrome (the hell they have) where the rookie cop feels he (or she) ought to be able to cope without help from colleagues and that to share a problem would be a sign of weakness.

Unsurprisingly, this mindset does the policeman and his force no good whatsoever. Do ya feel lucky? I've been lucky in that I've always had people to turn to. Now I'm even luckier. I can turn to them and talk over a cup of cool, filtered water.

Jack Sheet won't be leaping off buildings on to the roof of his car in case he falls through the sunroof.

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