Loyalty... respect... whatever
There are rumours that our headteacher is about to hand in her resignation. I don't believe them.
I've had my differences with Patricia Gibbon over her three years of tenure, but it's always been clear from her mission statements that she's got enormous loyalty towards Greenfield Academy and wants to effect change for the benefit of every pupil in an overarching strategic policy to fulfil every aim of A Curriculum for Excellence.
Well, that's what it says on the school's website, anyway.
On a more prosaic level, her most recent "All Staff" email has been causing disquiet. She has asked staff planning to visit this week's Scottish Learning Festival to report back on their seminars.
Our senior biology teacher, Davie McManus, was particularly unnerved. "Ah signed up furr this SLF as a nice day out. Now she's askin' me if ah've got any HG Tens feedback, whitever the hell that might be."
"HG Tens?" I questioned.
"Ah, stuff it!" he retorted. "She'll be too busy preparing fur the next job interview tae remember an' ah'll no' be able to tell her much, seein' as ah plan tae spend the afternoon in the cinema!"
I was outraged to think that a staff member would flout the development opportunities afforded by the SLF, and told him so.
He raised two fingers in reply.
Caitlin Charles, the recent probationary addition to the English department, held the second meeting of her Debating Society, and I resolved to attend, attracted by the topic "This House Looks To Raise the School Leaving Age".
But, Caitlin's obvious attractions youth, blonde hair, and a stunning figure drew a less welcome visitor, "Mainstream Michael" Kerr, expressing his first extra-curricular interest in five years of school.
His obvious intent was to draw attention to himself from Ms Charles, so I decided to intervene after he had sworn volubly at an argument from the proposition.
"Michael. You can't stand up and make outrageous statements like that! You have to say 'Point of information' first," I explained.
He looked at me, bewildered. "Whit?" he challenged. "Ah huvtae say whit?"
"Point of information, after which your opponents might decide to decline the point, or accept, after which... "
"Aw, get stuffed, surr!" he exclaimed. "Nae time fur that shite."
Unbelievably, his response drew a round of ribald applause and an unconvincing reprimand from Ms Charles, who seemed to be having difficulty restraining a smile.
Maybe I should have a word with her NQT mentor.
Ms Gibbon has handed in her notice. She is moving to a school in what could best be described as a leafy suburb in an education authority that seemed to get more "Excellents" in its last HMIE report than I thought possible. So much for loyalty.
Mr McManus has been exercised by another reminder about his SLF report. "God, she's at it again!" he complained, reading from his emails. "It says here: 'David: You've still not acknowledged receipt of my HG Tens query. Could you let me know your thoughts asap?' Bloody hell! I still don't know what she's on about."
I leaned over to look at his screen, and the penny dropped. "That's not HG Tens," I explained quietly. "It's HGIOS'."
"HGIOS. How Good Is Our School one of the most important documents by HMIE to look at quality management and raising attainment in every area of a school's performance indicators. Don't tell me you've not heard of it?"
He shrugged his shoulders, as I rummaged in a pile of circulars. "Here," I brandished one aloft. "This is what it looks like. This version replaces the second one."
"Does it, now?" he narrowed his eyes. "Can't remember seeing it. But it looks as if I'd better take one home and read it, doesn't it?"
I couldn't believe that we've been through three versions of HGIOS and Davie McManus has never heard about it. And as for HG Tens, well you couldn't make it up...
It was a weary-looking senior biology teacher who entered the staffroom. "Trouble sleeping last night, Davie?" I asked.
"Not really. One look at that HGIOS nonsense and I was out like a light. But it made for depressing reading with my cornflakes."
"Well," interrupted Caitlin Charles. "I have to say that we found it a very useful document at college, even in the second version. And this third edition is even more exciting, what with its new structure and... "
"Oh be quiet, dearie," McManus held up his hand. "You know what I think about how good is our school? It's crap, that's what it is! It's an educational doss-house, a sink, a magnet school for the academically challenged and the behaviourally-impaired. With a catchment area like ours, how could it be any different?
"And now our headteacher has confirmed that view by pissing off to a nice headship in academic suburbia, having served her apprenticeship here and then abandoning ship like any good captain with an eye to the main chance."
Caitlin narrowed her eyes and frowned. "You're just the type of cynical old teacher they warned us about at college."
"Hmmph!" coughed McManus. "Pity they didn't teach you about respect for your elders."
"No, they taught us that respect has to be earned. And you haven't earned mine!" she flounced to the sink and added insult to injury by taking Davie's coffee mug for her lunchtime beverage.
Gosh. They're breeding them differently at college these days...