Please don't let them fall in love

6th February 2004 at 00:00
Valentine's Day looms. Once again it will be down to me to rifle through the internal post and perform the crucial task of destroying all messages of love and lust before they reach their targets.

Not quite in the spirit of Cupid perhaps, but every shredded card and bin-bagged rose will be for the greater good. The last thing a school can afford these days is to have a precious, unattached member of staff possibly discovering that another is burning a torch.

We all know the dire consequences of any in-house romance. That freshly-lit flame eventually burns another vast and possibly irredeemable hole in the school's colourful but nowadays thinly layered extra-curricular tapestry.

Take, for instance, the dynamic Mr Brogan in maths. Consider the damage that would be created if he were to become smitten and go down the path of romance, partnership and even parenthood.

He currently runs the annual school trip to West Africa, he is saviour of the school's brass band, reviver of the mountaineering club and helps with at least five soccer teams. Scrutinise the "beyond the classroom" section of the school prospectus and you see Mr Brogan lurking somewhere in just about all the pictures. All of that might be jettisoned if he were to be taken this Valentine's.

Suppose he were to discover today that his card is from the gorgeous Miss Carmichael in modern languages. If she secretly wishes to give up running the theatre club, hip-hop society and the French exchange trips to have his babies then the school really is up the creek without a paddle - not that there would be any more canoe club anyway without Mr Brogan, now I think of it.

All that single person's old-fashioned commitment to the life of the school would be tossed aside more thoughtlessly than Mr Brogan's outer garments in the first moments of passion. No, far better to destroy any love message and try to put the dreaded day off for at least another few years.

Many of the most inspiring times for children simply would not happen without a healthy amount of singles around. They are just about the only teachers left with the time and energy to embroil themselves in those pursuits that help to preserve a school's vibrancy in the pallid age of league tables.

Concentrating on the so-called "league" is the mindset of most staff with families, ever since education leaders fell in love with tests and exam performance. That particular love match is surely bound, one day, to end in tears.

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