Spread joy, and photocopying tasks, to the maximum ..

15th April 2011 at 01:00


All staff are frantically completing report cards for our first-year charges, a task which is proving more difficult than usual because, for our "CfE Virgins" (as "Coarse Davie" McManus has termed them), Mrs Slater has insisted that we utilise the new terminology outlined in our Curriculum for Excellence guidelines.

"So, hang on!" exclaimed Frank O'Farrell this afternoon, realising the implications. "Does this mean that I can only use three bands of attainment description: Developing, Consolidating and Secure?"

I confirmed his interpretation.

"But what about telling the parents that their child's a lazy wastrel who couldn't give a rat's arse about his work?"

"Not allowed, Frank. Sorry. You've got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative."

He put his head in his hands. "Stop it, Morris," he said. "Next thing I know, you'll be telling me to latch on to the affirmative - and don't mess with Mister In-Between."

Suddenly Davie McManus burst into stentorian voice from across the staffroom: "Of course he will, Frankie! It's what CfE's all about."

After which he broke into song, his arms spread aloft: "You've got to - spread - joy - up to the maximum! Bring - gloom - down to the minimum! Have - faith - or pandemonium's. Liable to walk upon the scene . ".

It was an uplifting start to the week.


My wife Gail is exercised by the news that her primary school's photocopying is to be carried out at the regional offices, with at least six weeks' notice required.

She voiced her disapproval at tea-time. "Good grief, I don't know what I need photocopied next week, let alone next month!"

I said it was clearly a cost-saving move that the school would have to endure, and it would no doubt save staffing, paper and toner costs because the offices would have secured a bulk contract.

"Hah," she scoffed. "Well we haven't got any paper anyway. One ream per class to last us all year, so when the photocopier repair man came last week, d'you know what happened? He asked for paper to test the machine after he'd sorted it - and we couldn't give him any. He had to go and buy some from Mr Patel's shop."

I voiced an opinion that the financial strength of Rank Xerox could probably take that particular hit.


This morning saw the most extraordinary demonstration of school pupil solidarity that I have witnessed in all my 27 years of teaching.

Apparently, a Facebook campaign had been building momentum over recent weeks concerning the education cuts, and was set to culminate with a nationwide classroom walk-out at 10am today. Never loath to refuse an excuse to leave the classroom, Greenfield Academy's finest rose to the challenge, with a mass departure starting at 9.59.

"Where the hell, d'you think you're going?" roared Frank O'Farrell as his Standard grade class got up to leave.

"Wur protestin' about the cuts, Surr. It's our futures whit's at stake!" explained Billy Logan.

Suddenly O'Farrell witnessed Pauline McDonald's Higher modern studies class filing past his door as well. "What in God's name?" he shouted, only to be interrupted by Pauline herself.

"Isn't it wonderful, Frank?" she said. "Everything we've tried to instil in them about the power of popular protest, and here they're living it out!" She hurried after her class, urging them on.

Frank looked momentarily confused, then narrowed his eyes and decided what his learning outcomes for the day should be: "Right, you lot!" he bellowed at his errant class. "Get your arses back here at once or I'll withdraw each and every one of you from your exam!"

They hurried back at once. At least, in future, they'll know the difference between totalitarianism and the democratic intellect.


We have been infuriated by the news that all of Greenfield Academy's photocopying has to be carried out by the local authority offices. "It's appalling!" I complained to Gail at dinner as we started our dessert. "What about our prelim papers? They're supposed to be completely secure, but what if one of the council clerical staff with a kid in a school gets hold of them? Can . ?"

Gail cut me short. "It's clearly a cost- saving move, Morris," she explained playfully, "that the school has to endure, and it will no doubt save staffing, paper and toner costs because the offices will have secured a bulk contract."

I bit my lip and got on with eating a large slice of (very humble) pie.


Frank O'Farrell thinks he has solved the CfE reports problem. "It's simple," he explained as he handed me a sheet of A4. "I've prepared a glossary so that parents can understand the reports more easily."

I took it from him warily - with good reason, as it turned out. It said - and I quote - "If your child is described as `Developing', it means that she is thick, inattentive or lazy - possibly all three. If your child is `Consolidating', it means that she has at least developed a rudimentary concept of civilised behaviour but has a long way to go if you expect more than a worthless internally-assessed pass at National 4. And if your child is `Secure', then it suggests that she is no worse than the rest of them - but that's not saying very much - and there's a decent chance of a National 5 award - whatever that might mean when it comes to pass."

I don't think he'll get it into the school prospectus .

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