Question time

19th December 2014 at 00:00

This Christmas we can expect more question-and-answer stocking-filler books containing thought-provoking queries about penguins, wasps and the bulletproof qualities of extremely fat people.

But I am still waiting for one that addresses the many mysteries baffling teachers across the land. I raised a number of them on these pages a few Christmases ago - "Has a teacher ever copped off with a visiting Ofsted inspector?", for instance - but most respondents agreed that these questions did indeed belong to the great unknown. So, with no real hope of anyone being able or bothered to do so, I wonder if anyone is able to answer some of these brow-furrowers:

1. Why do successive classes come into my room and announce, "Phew, it smells in here", when it plainly does not smell in here?

2. Are teachers' extramarital affairs now a thing of the past in this busy, grade-obsessed new world? I never seem to hear about extracurricular assignations nowadays - is it just too much for anyone to contemplate yet another commitment?

3. Why does promotion to senior management send so many men to dark suits?

4. Did you spot the deliberate error in question 3? The nation's former senior management teams would have, of course, after they all suddenly and mysteriously became "senior leadership teams" overnight sometime in November 2011. What was that all about? And what difference did it make?

5. Given that being a school leader now primarily involves turning the underachieving "red" students on the school's spreadsheet into target-hitting "green" ones, does a colour-blind candidate for a senior position (no matter how dark their suit) have any realistic hope?

6. What should I have done last week when, as I was driving towards the school gates, Rolf Harris' Two Little Boys came blaring through the car speakers? (The song has long been a favourite of my son's and had started to play, with immaculate timing, on my iPod's random shuffle mode.) Should I have a) immediately lunged forward to silence the contraption, possibly causing the car to swerve into some of our pupils or b) brazenly wound down all the windows and sung along, hoping that everyone understood the irony?

7. You have just sent a colleague a lengthy email. You then immediately walk into that person in the corridor. Do you repeat the message that you have just sent or - to avoid pointless repetition - do you ignore the email topic and talk about something else entirely?

8. Is there a tiny part of us that is just a little bit disappointed that Michael Gove has gone? Not because we liked him or his policies, of course, but because it was so much fun hearing some of the most genteel and mild-mannered colleagues repeatedly turn the air in the staffroom blue when his name was mentioned.

Stephen Petty is head of humanities at Lord Williams's School in Thame, Oxfordshire

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