Please send us a new model army

24th January 2003 at 00:00
Dear Mam Did you know that I am teaching a Year 7 maths class this year? Most of us are, because we can't find proper maths teachers.

I remember you saying how you wished I was numerate. I don't have a proper maths room, just a cardboard box with "the head's maths room" written on the side that I carry around with me.

However, I am enjoying the teaching, finding out how to do long division again. In fact, I have just finished teaching Year 7. The lesson went well, apart from when I had to tell off Louise for flicking a paper pellet at Terry. I told her flicking paper was not appropriate behaviour for a learning support assistant.

I like the idea of teaching assistants taking over the less important tasks from teachers. It reminds me of those Old Masters who would allow their apprentices to paint most of the pictures before they would appear at the last minute to put a few dabs here and there and sign their name in the corner. I could do that in my maths class. Let the LSA do all the hard work, then sweep in near the end and announce "therefore y = x + 2", or whatever, to sighs of rapturous enlightenment from the class.

It made me think about the Government's idea of hiring an army of teaching assistants. We find it difficult to get teaching assistants round here, so I have a good wheeze. Like that terracotta army in China, or the stone soldiers on the battlements of Alnwick Castle, I will ask the art department to make 50 life-sized papier-mache assistants to distribute around the school. The costs will be low. I think it will work, except that I can't decide how the paper assistants will apply the behaviour policy.

We are really getting into the healthy schools initiative. Mr Bloggs in technology has taken it to heart and insists on walking to work. He gets in at 11.30am. I was disappointed that the Indian head massage wasn't exclusively for me. And all the children now have bottled water in class to make their brains bigger. We do get an endless progression of pupils asking to go to the toilet, but I expect that's healthy, too. Bacon baps are off the breakfast menu and the kitchen staff are experimenting with healthier alternatives. I have told them the porridge baps just don't work.

Well, Mam, I must dash off now and go to chess club (that's my new name for the heads of department meeting). Be in touch soon.

Your loving son, Philip Phil Bloomfield is head of Fitzharrys school, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today