Although we at St Jude's pride ourselves on always being at the forefront of any new initiatives, we had little interest at first in the concept of the increased flexibility programme. This was because we thought it had something to do with ballet.
Ballet never played a big part in the St Jude's curriculum, and was abandoned altogether when Maurice jeted out of a first-floor window and landed on the caretaker's wife, who has been heavily sedated ever since.
Even before the accident, the thought of Maurice in tights was enough to induce bouts of hysteria among the more faint-hearted staff. (Some thought it might mean reviving use of the school rack, popular with the teachers but less so with parents, who complained their children outgrew their uniforms.) When we learnt the truth, our enthusiasm was boundless. For a couple of days a week, all our pupils - well, sadly only some of them - would go away to another place, where they would be taught other things, by other people.
What the teachers at the local FE college felt at the sight of a contingent of St Jude's finest oozing over the campus like so much condemned and lackadaisical jelly is unrecorded, and frankly we don't care. They're not here, and that's all that matters to us.
This is supposed to give them practical skills, make them want to stay in school, or somewhere similar, and with any luck give them an extra qualification. What extra means in this context is unclear.
There are many things they can study. Leisure and tourism is apparently very popular. Certainly, they'll have no trouble with the practical. Some are doing motor mechanics, presumably to ensure they make quick getaways later in life. For all I know, Maurice can do ballet and jete on to someone else's wife.
The powers that occasionally be make a lot of fuss about quality assurance, synchronising timetables and co-ordinating education between them and us.
Quite how we're meant to co-ordinate with whoever's teaching hair and beauty is a mystery, but synchronising timetables is a cinch: anytime the college wants them is fine with us.
Certainly, quality assurance is not an issue. I can assure you the quality of our lives has improved no end.