Induction, quality reduction and the effect of loo suction

15th June 2012 at 01:00


Frank O'Farrell, PT social subjects, is bowing to negative pressure inflicted by the senior management team about his desire to teach National 5 a year ahead of schedule. He won't. At least, that's what he's agreed in principle .

"But in real life, Morris," he confided at morning break, "I'm mounting a guerrilla war: I'm adjusting my S3 course to conform with their wishes, wrapping the N45 courses under the Level 4 Experiences and Outcomes so that they articulate with the Leninist democratic centralist model of consultation and implementation as outlined by Education Scotland in their recent `deep audit' of readiness for senior CfE."

Frank's always been one for high drama.


This week sees many Primary 7 pupils visiting us for induction days. Next year's S1 seems to be, so far, remarkably bereft of the appalling and distasteful lumpenproletariat who mostly comprised their immediate predecessors. There was a particularly nice collection from Rockston Primary, who paid full attention as I stressed the wide range of extra- curricular activities on offer.

"Excuse me, Sir," said one rosy-cheeked, well-spoken lad by the name of Samuel. "Is there a Scripture Union in the school?"

"Um. yes! Yes, I'm sure there is," I informed him hastily, although not exactly certain. "I, er, think it's Mr Taylor who does it. But I'll get back to you when you're next here, Samuel - that's Friday, isn't it?"

"Thank you, Sir," he beamed. "We have got a very strong SU at Rockston Primary and we hope to keep it up here."

Three other boys and two girls nodded smiling agreement, and - for once in my career - I am actually looking forward to welcoming a new first year in August.


Turmoil continues within social subjects, as Frank O'Farrell tries to deal with the complexities inflicted upon the history department as a result of last-minute changes to N45 syllabus outlines.

Apparently, no two members of the department want to cover the same option from the bewildering array on offer in both British and European areas of study, and the ensuing battles have caused major arguments.

But it is in the Scottish options where discussion has been most heated, with Frank complaining that the history department were "like ferrets in a sack" over the fact that exactly the same options as at Higher have been thrust upon a bemused profession that wants guidance on whether it can teach the same topic two years in a row - and if they can't, how will SQA find out anyway?

"I've told them to stop being a bunch of old women," he explained, "and remember that they won't start teaching the course till next year anyway, so why worry just ."

"And I presume they reminded you what you're planning to do?" I interrupted.

"Well, yes, they did. So I just said that if they wanted to do Scotland and the Great War at Level 4, then again at National 4 and National 5, then again at Higher, that would be fine by me. Because it would be all about deep learning, and that is what is really important these days."

"But a bit boring for the kids, surely, doing the same topic three years in a row?"

"Maybe," he shrugged. "But they will certainly have had deep learning, which should give us an absolutely huge tick in the box when it comes to departmental review time."

I'm not sure if this is exactly what Education Scotland has in mind when it recommends deep learning.


We have just taken delivery of paper stocks, and the effects of a procurement change over to our new stationery supplier are becoming apparent. Aside from the fact that we have to work out requirements with no catalogue and no prices, the delivery system takes longer than before, as our requisitions come from an English depot rather than our preferred local supplier.

Perhaps we could put aside all of these inconveniences if the product quality was an improvement. Alas, it is not, as today's unwrapping confirmed that our "Budget PriceHighest Quality" reams of white paper are, in fact, reams of slightly off-yellow paper. The wonders of council procurement never cease to amaze me.


I met Samuel Smyth again this afternoon, and thought he must have been for a lunchtime swim, as his hair was plastered to his head.

"Not at all, Sir," he assured me. "It was just that I met some first-year boys, and I asked them about joining the SU. They told me that if I joined the SU here they would make life very difficult for me - and to prove it, they took me into the lavatories, then forced my head into a toilet and flushed it over me."

My jaw nearly hit the floor as I envisioned a parental bullying complaint before the boy had even started.

"It's all right, Sir," he reassured me. "I didn't blame them. Matthew Chapter 10, Verse 22: `All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.'"

My jaw descended further, as a whole range of disciplinary options on those responsible came to mind. In the end, I chickened out: "Um. right, Samuel," I muttered. "If that's how you feel, maybe we should leave it just now - but the first sign of any further bullying like that, you just let me know. OK?"

He shrugged carelessly. Next session looks as if it could be very interesting.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today