School Diary - Not quite in tune with this effing curriculum

19th March 2010 at 00:00


While our senior pupils are preparing for an Easter holiday comprising exam revision, the junior school is more excited about this Friday's "Greenfield's Got Talent" competition. Unfortunately, my first-year class can talk of nothing else.

"Surr!" demanded Ryan Moore this afternoon. "Dae youse want tae see Kylie's Lady GaGa routine?"

I declined his offer and urged a return to poetic study of De La Mare's "The Listeners" instead.

"Ach, that's crap!" he said rudely. "We done it in P7 last year, an' it wis crap then too. Kylie, gie us yur `Poker Face' instead!" he urged.

I don't think I can stand this until Friday.


I have decided not to become an SQA marker this year, after discussing the new fee structures with Frank O'Farrel. He explained that, in his view, SQA had "sold the markers down the river, and tried to disguise a rates reduction as an increase in pay!"

It all sounded complex to me, and seemed to depend upon the removal of a "general fee" that affected some markers more than others and ended up making one's payment calculations more complicated than the Barnett formula. I opted not to risk it.


Staff anger is mounting about Curriculum for Excellence, and is most visible in the demeanour of my colleagues Frank O'Farrell and Davie McManus.

"My God!" O'Farrell was moaning this afternoon about the council's education department: "Now they've appointed a new quality improvement officer for - wait for it - `Curriculum for Excellence and the 21st Century'! That's a hell of a big remit, isn't it, the entire bloody 21st century?"

"Don't start me", chimed Davie McManus from behind his copy of The Sun. "Ah'm sick o' this CffE! We're expected tae provide a brand new curriculum outae the wild imaginings o' wur creative faculties - wi' no new resources, no money tae buy them even if there were any, an' a timetable fur implementation that's absolutely settled fur this August - except they might be thinkin' o' delayin' it again if we kick up a stink."

"Don't you mean CfE, not CffE?" I ventured to enquire.

"Naw," he replied firmly. "In ma view it's CffE."

"What's the extra `f' for?" I asked artlessly.

"Well, it's no' `fantastic', Morris," he explained. "And it's no' `finding'. But it is another word beginnin' with `f' and endin' in `ing'. Can you guess?"

"Oh," I flushed slightly. "I see. So it's not an official piece of terminology from Learning and Teaching Scotland, then?"

"Naw, it's no'," he confirmed. "But it's an official piece of terminology from Davie McManus, and it summarises ma opinion mair succinctly than any Buildin' the Curriculum document has ivver managed!"

I wonder if his acronym will catch on?


Tonight was a rare evening out, as I joined my old head of department Simon Young for a drink, a long-awaited event 18 months into his early retirement.

"I can hardly believe it's coming up for two years since you left, Simon," I said after our third pint, "and I know we had our occasional differences, but I'd have to say that your replacement's even less popular - I mean, sorry, I meant she's not making herself very popular," I corrected myself.

"Isn't she?" he squinted. "To be honest, Morris, I don't keep up with school any more. Once you've gone, you've gone."

"So you don't miss anything about it?"

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," he confessed. "But it's not what I expected. They say you'll miss your colleagues and the kids, but I don't. What you actually miss is ready access to the photocopier and the laser printer for personal use. D'you have any idea how much ink cartridges cost?"

It seemed a sad reflection after 31 years in the classroom.


"Greenfield's Got Talent" passed off without any major calamities, and even I was forced to admit that Kylie Kinnear's Lady GaGa routine was quite impressive - but not half as impressive as the impromptu "Greenfield Staff's Got Talent" show, put on by Davie McManus, Frank O'Farrell and four other male members, so to speak, who mounted the stage at the end of the afternoon - and performed, in appropriately extravagant dress, a stunning anti-tribute to Davie's newly-entitled CffE, and in parodic style of the Village People's famous anthem, "Y.M.C.A".

Picture, if you will, the six of them in line, their arms and hands framing the CffE initials at the chorus, and that famous, thumping tune from 1979 echoing across the assembly hall .

Young man! There's no need to feel down

I said, young man! Pick yourself off the ground

I said, young man! We've got great things to do

There's a bright - new - thing for teachers .

Young man! Kids will learn for themselves

I said, young man! Put those books on the shelves -

They don't need them! And I'm sure you will find

That the kids will - just - have good times .

It's fun to work with the C-F-F-E

It's fun to work with the C-F-F-E

It has everything for the kids to enjoy

`Cos they can do whatever they feel!

It's fun to work with the C-F-F-E .

. And so on, for three more verses. The pupils seemed to enjoy it, even though they couldn't possibly have understood all the references, especially the second "f" in "CffE". However, I'm not so sure how it went down with our head Rosemary Slater, who had invited our newest QIO to the talent show. Unfortunately, he seemed decidedly unimpressed: it looks like a sense of humour wasn't part of his job description .

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