Mrs Harry turns down the blo-job
The opening day of term was marked by another tedious inservice affair, wherein all the authority's schools got together to hear the latest deliverance on A Curriculum for Excellence. As usual, we looked forward to hearing some of the practical details surrounding this brave new curricular world, and - as usual - we learned little.
Our main speaker was Bill Truss, a former quality improvement manager with the authority before he got an early retirement package last year - we've seen more of him than ever, except that he's now there as an educational consultant, charging three times his former daily rate of pay.
He seemed to have a new dynamism: "You've got to realise that ACfE isn't about delivering the curriculum in the same way in every school," he raised his arms aloft like an old-style preacher.
"The old model of 'cascading' a rigid syllabus has gone for ever. The new way is to allow you, as professionals, the liberation of deciding what's best for the kids in their own individual circumstances, and let you develop exciting new ways to present that information in a dynamic, engaging and entrepreneurial manner."
Looking around the room at the slumped bodies and yawning mouths, we seemed a world away from that, although I did have a vague recollection that I'd heard similar exhortations before.
"No wonder," confirmed Davie McManus at the coffee break. "It's the same presentation Bill gave last year at our school inservice, remember? With the same PowerPoint slides - didn't you see the authority logo in the corner?"
What a cheek: using materials he's developed when employed by the authority, and charging us for showing them again. At least he's demonstrating the entrepreneurialism that he commends so highly... Tuesday
None of my certificate classes used their Easter holidays for any serious revision.
"But ye canny practise fur an English exam, surr," protested Ryan Hedgcock when I held aloft the largely empty contents of his "revision diary".
"Don't be ridiculous!" I countered. "The way that some of you are preparing for the most important exams of your life to date makes me afraid that you'll be joining the Neet cohorts in two years time - not in education, employment or training," I threatened - to no avail.
"Haw!" scoffed Peter Westhouse, as he raised an eyebrow from his slumbers in the front row. "Ma dad says ah'll no' be a Neet - ah'll be a Nofweet."
"Sorry?" I queried. "A what?"
"A Nofweet, surr. No fuckin' way in educashun, emploayment urr trainin'!"
"That's enough!" I stamped down firmly on such obscenities and told them to start on the reading I'd set for exam practice.
The worrying thing is that his father's probably right.
The forthcoming elections are causing friction as political prejudices are laid bare. I found myself the object of some ridicule for daring to venture some words of support for the recent administration, whose anti-smoking measures cheered me immensely.
"And not only that," I said. "Look at our salaries compared with six years ago. You can tell the First Minister was once in the classroom from the way we've been treated ever since he was Education Minister."
"Hah!" laughed Davie McManus. "Don't give me that crap, Morris. At one time I thought he was sympathetic to us as well. But as soon as he said he wanted to raise the school leaving age to 18, he lost my vote. It's a hell of a long time since he was in a classroom if he's suggesting something that stupid!"
Maybe he had a point.
I had hoped to get my weekly "fix" on the RateMyTeachers website this morning, but was infuriated to discover that access to the site has been blocked by our interfering head Pat Gibbon, who has apparently deemed it an "inappropriate site" and has asked the school's IT technician to arrange the necessary technical injunction.
I think it's a gross over-reaction to a spot of harmless fun on the part of our pupil cohort, especially as my ratings had improved considerably last week. Believe it or not, one pupil described me as "Simpy the best!", which had put my average rating up to a respect-able 3.7, and I desperately wanted to check for further additions.
I was decrying the internet block to Mrs Harry of business studies, who didn't seem to agree that it was a contravention of our European human rights. "Hardly, Morris," she smiled wanly. "So, no, I don't think I'll be supporting your complaint to Ms Gibbon - and even if I did, I don't think it would help your case. I'm not her favourite person right now."
"Oh? What's wrong?" I asked.
"She asked if I'd be interested in the business liaison officer job for the school, developing sponsorship links with business communities."
"And didn't you want to?"
"Not really. There was no extra money for a lot of extra work, but I told her that my main reason for refusing was that I didn't want a job with such an embarrassing acronym, and she didn't find my comment very funny."
I obviously looked bewildered, because she leaned over in confidential fashion. "Business liaison officer, Morris. Think about it. It would've been known as the blo-job until the day I retired..."
I could see why Ms Gibbon hadn't found it funny.
I have accessed RateMyTeachers from my home PC and decided to add ratings for myself, namely another group of 5s and a complimentary comment to boot, which goes to show how flawed it is.
But when my wife, Gail, challenged me on such dishonest practice, I had the perfect answer. "Just imagine, Morris," she complained, "if every other teacher thought the same as you?"
"Then, Gail," I informed her grandly, "as Yossarian said in Catch 22 - I'd be a damned fool to think any different... "
And so I would!