Thank God it's Friday

29th January 1999 at 00:00

Has anyone ever researched the dangers of walking down a school corridor? I am nearly mown down by a science technician trying to restrain a runaway TV trolley and video; she is too short to see over it. I'm sure they breed technicians small. This must link to the health and safety rule that all bottles of chemicals must be at eye height or below.


I am marching down the corridor when the office door of the deputy head (curriculum) opens and she calls me into her lair to consult me on next year's curriculum. I leave, confused by what I do not understand and depressed by what I do.

I meet Krishna in the corridor by the staffroom. He's a cheerful lad, who has both limited English and severely limited intelligence. This is why he is doing his work experience with our site agent. I ask him what he has done today. "I have been screwing," he says. "What have you been screwing, Krishna?" I ask. "Screws," he says.


Our newly-qualified teacher asks for help. She has stopped her class leaving for lunch because four calculators have "gone missing". Shane flings down his bag and insists on being searched there and then, while Lauren denounces any potential search as an infringement of civil liberty requiring UN mediation.

I look around. Four calculators suggests a joker rather than a thief. I can see the outline of the calculators in Abu's shirt pockets. Silently I reach out my hand. A great grin cracks his face as he hands me two calculators from one shirt pocket. He has enjoyed winding up the new miss. From his other shirt pocket, he hands me the other two calculators and his packet of cigarettes.


I meet Stephen walking down the corridor in the middle of period two. I ask where he is going. True to the rule that a student never answers a teacher directly, he tells me that he has come from maths.


I pass Peter, standing outside a classroom door. I ask why he has been sent out; as he answers a cloud of gin wafts towards me. He admits to having shared a bottle with Danny and Raj. I escort him to the corridor outside the head's office and then go in search of his accomplices.

Fifty minutes later, I have 10 students standing in the head's corridor. Name-calling starts and escalates into a fight. I intervene with the help of several of the drinkers and our NQT. She just happened to be passing. I give her the benefit of my accumulated experience: keep away from corridors.

Chris Jarrett teaches in Bedfordshire

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