'He's a lazy sod, you can sort it'

10th March 2006 at 00:00
I read recently that an Italian teacher who says that repeated delays on the rail network are making his life a misery is planning to sue the train company for allegedly causing him "existential damage".

I am thinking of lodging a similar complaint against the senior management team (SMT) and the misery they are causing to my life with the endless cycle of report writing I am forced to endure.

I say "my life", but in reality I am not having a life at all. Every spare moment is spent either writing, editing or proofreading subject and pastoral reports. Enough.

The Italian teacher claims to be so exasperated by the constant uncertainty of whether his train will arrive on time that he wonders if his life has any value or meaning. To the SMT, the only value to my life is writing reports.

I decide to write down exactly how I feel about a pupil. If I can write that it has been a pleasure teaching a particular pupil, why can't I also write "he's a lazy little sod and I'm not taking responsibility for his lack of progress any more. You sort it".

The limit of 800 words isn't enough for the emotional outburst that spews forth when I begin Alex's report. Shocked, I press delete and go for a cup of tea, taking care not to wake colleague who has literally fallen asleep at laptop, head in hands mid-report.

If the SMT smiles dismissively one more time when we complain about workload, I'm going to strangle them with their own grey ties. Plan ahead, we are told. Write them early. They teach four periods a week. I sometimes do not get that many non-contact periods.

Let us send the report by text message. "Lzy sod. Nds tke rspnsblty 4 self.

HW dsgrc. U srt it."

At least then I would not have to worry about the weird effects my mild dyslexia and the spellchecker have on my word formation. Bobby becomes Booby. Concerted effort becomes concreted effort. Bizarrely, Rachinder becomes Rawhide and Sameer, seamier.

I realise that I have put linguine instead of linguistic in all 22 sixth-form reports. I struggle to find pearls of wisdom to offer Year 11 in their last report before GCSEs.

My head of department has noticed the effects of hours of report writing.

Why else the INSET leaflet on "Sanity in the secondary classroom"? Amazingly they offer all the answers in one day, 20 strategies and lunch.

Am tempted to go. Then realise I have reports to write.

Julie Greenhough teaches at a London boys' school

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