Thank God it's Friday

9th April 1999 at 01:00
Monday I am away from my own school doing a spot of examining. As I sit moderating a student's debating skills, my eye is caught by a poster beyond his left shoulder advertising a "Signing Club". There are some odd things in the national curriculum. But signing your name is not a national curriculum statement. Not yet, anyway.

Tuesday My Year 10 class includes a stroppy boy who has a host of family and school troubles - and an unfortunate grin that makes it difficult to tell whether he is laughing or grimacing. Sure enough, he pulls a stunt - eating crisps, even after I give him "the look".

Things turn surreal as, having removed the offending edibles, I see him sucking a tube of toothpaste. I joke about his "main course" and he furiously protests that he spent the night at a friend's house and the tube is leaking. He accuses me of making a fool of him. A classmate mutters that it doesn't take me to do that. He becomes too upset to be allowed to stay in the room.

The founding of a "Sighing Club" seems appropriate.

Wednesday I smell burning at break-time. My enquiries about possible smokers draw a blank. But all is revealed along the corridor, where it seems a colleague has been engaged in that favourite contemporary teacher pastime of "ageing" students' project work. The kids usually use cold tea or the grill at home. He's resorted to a lighter - borrowed from a Year 11 boy. It all goes wrong and the whole thing ends up in a metal bin. I wonder whether he is considering forming a "Singeing Club"?

Thursday Two of my Year 10 students spend much of the lesson in earnest conversation. This is pleasing because the class is doing a group project and they're all preparing their presentations. As they leave, I overhear the result of their deliberations as Hannah calls out to a waiting friend:

"Guess what? Simon's going to mate his cornsnake with mine." Perhaps they could form a "Siring Club"?

Friday Following the announcement that there is to be a new system of annual appraisal, I look through an old folder of "appraisal training" materials. Instead of performance-related pay, they talk about "support", "professional development" and the like. When a colleague enters my office I speculate about the chances of the Government seeing sense on the subject of motivating teachers. "Pigs will fly," she says.

If anyone notices me scanning the skies over the next few weeks, they will know I am watching for porcine squadrons. I am the founder member of the newly-formed "Sightings Club".

Colin Padgett is head of English at The Ramsey School, Halstead, Essex

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