The passing out of confident individuals

30th June 2006 at 01:00

I've been delighted to receive confirmation that my second chartered teaching module has been completed successfully, and consequently I look forward to an enhanced August salary cheque.

What with the birth of our second child two months ago, it hasn't been terribly easy to keep on top of all my assignments, so I am thinking of delaying my third module until next year. And if our headteacher's attitude to my new CT part-qualification is anything to go by, I might even delay it indefinitely.

Pat Gibbon seems to think that news of my module award should be greeted with additional responsibilities, as she explained when I passed on my happy news this afternoon.

"Great, Morris," she enthused. "It's a beginning on the next stage of the promotion ladder."

"But I thought that the chartered teacher programme was all about rewarding reflective classroom pedagogy, not a promotional strategy," I protested.

"Nonsense," she contradicted fiercely. "I've been through all the permutations down the years and, take it from me, senior teachers, chartered teachers, they're all one and the same, really: a chance to make a name for yourself and take on some extra duties, ready for your next job application.

"So I thought you could chair the staff working party on behaviourism.

You've done a lot in that area this year, and don't think I've forgotten it," she recalled my assistance in several disciplinary issues.

I bit my lip and told her I would think about it.

"Don't think too long, Morris," she cautioned. "There are a lot of people keen to chair that committee, but I've got you pencilled in."

Our headteacher can be quite persuasive when she wants. Indeed, sometimes, I think she's missed her real vocation in a sales position for double-glazing ...


The end of term draws nigh and it is hard to believe that another vanguard of our young charges is about to make its way into the outside world.

Why, it seems like only yesterday that I was dreading the arrival of Tony McManaman at Greenfield Academy after I met him and two of his Primary 7 cronies during a summer walk through the park with Gail and Margaret and an argument ensued about Margaret's right to be on the toddler swings rather than him. The end result of the confrontation was the deposit of a large ball of phlegm on my shoes after he spat at me.

Obviously, he didn't know at that stage that I was due to be one of his teachers in secondary school or he would have shown me a great deal more respect, and I'm glad to say that he hasn't spat at me once since then.

Abuse, arguments, filthy language, yes, we have had these aplenty; but spitting, thankfully, no.

Alas, as the class of 2006 prepares to leave behind these groves of academe, we prepare, too, for the loss of Darlinda George, whose Wiccan mother has given her such strong moral guidance over the years. And the corridors will seem somehow quieter without the constant "Omigod! Omigod!"

refrains of Rachel Roy, not to mention the visually distracting - for the boys in her year, at any rate - Britney socks and microskirts sported by her and her colleagues in the summer months.

As with every generation that leaves our charge, I am moved to ponder what we at Greenfield Academy have given them in their preparations for life. As ever, I am moved to hope that tolerance and respect for others are near the top of the list, as well as the development of their capacities as successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society.

Well, that's what I'll say in my next job application.


Gail is still enjoying maternity leave, although the fact that everyone else will soon be on holiday takes some of the shine from such pleasure.

She joined her erstwhile colleagues at Rockston Primary for an end-of-term lunch today, returning with a fantastically amusing tale about the recent interviews for their new headteacher.

"Apparently, the chair of the school board didn't turn up for the occasion," she tried hard to conceal her mirth at the subsequent events.

"So there they were with four candidates, all at top fever pitch as they waited to be given the topics for their presentations, but with no representative from the school board in attendance. Well, John Mills, the education officer, said he'd try to round someone up, so found himself knocking at the door of the board's vice-chair, Mrs Lawson. Apparently, his knocking got her out of bed, fag in hand, and at 10am, no less."

"Was she able to come?"

"Oh, yes, she was able to come all right. She said she'd 'want tae mekk shoor they goat a better heidie than the last wan', and proceeded to put a coat on over her nightie and join Mr Mills in his car to set off for the interviews."

My mind boggled, as they say, at the image conjured up of Mrs Lawson sitting on an interview panel with her nightie beneath her coat.

"It must have been a bit off-putting for the candidates, surely?"

"I'd reckon so," admitted Gail. "One of them thought it was a You've Been Framed stunt and didn't do her chances any good by laughing and demanding to know when the proper interview would start I and then realising it had.

"So who got the job?"

"Not the one favoured by Mrs Lawson, apparently. She wanted the candidate who promised a return to traditional values, 60 minutes of homework each night from P4 onwards and a breakfast club, so that she could discharge her offspring 40 minutes earlier than usual."

"And the one who won?"

"She blinded them with science and mirrors, promising a curriculum that was freed from the straitjacket of strict guidelines, one that was more in thinking with developing their skills for the 21st century workplace, skills that would not necessarily need examinable structures but ones that demonstrated their capacities through a matrix of achievable constraints, measured by success within the community of a wide range of enterprise projects that she outlined at some length."

Gail says she is just happy that she won't be near the place for a good few months yet.


Our penultimate day of term has, alas, been spoiled by certain sectors of our sixth year, who have seen fit to desecrate the personal property of several staff members - to wit, their cars - by decorating them with flour, eggs, beans, syrup and silly string. Unfortunately, my own car was one of those attacked and the afternoon sun made a perfect job of baking the missiles on to the paintwork.

All of the culprits were caught on security camera footage but the police have advised that as - and I quote - "no real damage was done", they will not be pressing any charges. I ask you!


Mrs Gibbon was, apparently, at the front gate of the school from 8 o'clock this morning in a stalwart attempt to stop any repetition of yesterday's high jinks. Although the image of a horse and an unbolted stable door sprang to mind, I decided to hold my counsel when I arrived at 8.45am and instead congratulated her on such a hands-on approach to school discipline.

"It's a whole-school issue, Morris," her eyebrows furrowed as she stared me in the face, "as I'm sure you'll discover when you're chairing our improving behaviour committee next year."

I gulped quietly and made a severely non-committal grunt before advancing to the door.

Whom should I meet there but "Coarse Davie" McManus, our senior biology teacher, tittering quietly to himself as he drew as many entrants as possible to his confidential message.

"Now then! Now then! Gather round, guys and gals," he made a passable Jimmy Saville impersonation, before commending the picture of calm and disciplined procedure at the front of the school and then inviting those present to join him for "a trip into the lands of adventure at the back of the school".

There it was that we pictured a scene more reminiscent of Dante's Inferno than an educational establishment in the early 21st century. Flour bombs, water bombs, egg bombs: you name it and the class of 2006 had a projectile missile made out of it.

Pitched battles ensued between fifth and sixth years, fourth and sixth years, and between first, second and third and sixth years. In short, the entire school population was massed against their departing senior co-educationalists - and the seniors were winning.

Of course, they had a valiant tradition to defend: no sixth year had ever been defeated in this end-of-term battle. Plus, of course, they were defending their standard, which comprised a unique banner with large painted script outlining Mrs Gibbon's alleged sexual proclivities.

Taste and discretion do not allow me to detail such allegations in detail.

Suffice to say that I don't believe she would ever have indulged in such practices with any man alive, let alone with our depute head, Kevin Muir.

As I watched Tony McManaman launch another vicious round of missiles and lead his troops into battle, I was moved once more to reflect on what we have given him and his classmates over the past six years. We seem to have made them "confident individuals" all right, but I have to confess that I'm not so sure about the "successful learners" issue, and even less certain about them being "responsible citizens" and "effective contributors to society".

Maybe A Curriculum for Excellence will change it all. For now, however, roll on the holidays.

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