Pupils I'll never forget

27th February 2004 at 00:00
Pat the traveller's son was pure mischief for Conca Goyder

You know what it's like. You watch a child causing mayhem in the playground and know that he's heading, inexorably, for your class. Pat's father was a traveller, so there was a chance he might move on. Pat arrived in my class with his cowlick swept up and a manic gleam in his eye.

He never stopped. Early on he found the power of blood. A careful snip with a pair of scissors and lots of squeezing meant class-stopping rivulets.

When all scissors were removed, he found uncurled paperclips did as good a job. I had my back to him once when unscheduled visitors came in. I saw the stupefied expressions on the faces of the children in front of me, and turned to see some rigid retreating backs. When I asked what it was this time, I found Pat had given them a full-frontal moony.

Then there was the day he nipped into the stock cupboard and took down one of those extra large tins of powder paint. Black, of course. Why I had an egg whisk in the cupboard, I can't now remember, but he found that, too.

Realising he was out of sight, I called out. He emerged streaked black and beaming, amid gales of laughter. I was livid. So livid I lost my head and tried to clear up the mess - with water! I shudder to recall my stupidity.

Towards the end of the year, with freedom in sight, I was told I would have to have him for a second year. I cut my hours. The first person to take my class lasted until lunchtime and never reappeared. The next one sat it out.

I heard reports that Pat had taped up the doors, "sunbathed" under the strip light in his underpants, and developed a moony habit.

He lasted two weeks in his next class before throwing a chair and being excluded. His mother had to give up her job to be at home with him, and it took months, a letter from me to the local MP, and press publicity to get him a place at a special school.

When I last saw Pat, as we waited to cross the road, he looked me in the eye, and his mother gave me a hearty hug saying how well he was doing at his new school. I hope so. I enjoy the memories - and classes have been so easy since then.

Conca Goyder taught Pat (not his real name) several years ago and has changed her job since. She is now a teacher at Colliers Green primary school near Cranbrook, Kent

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