Thank God it's Friday

2nd March 2001 at 00:00
Monday I have a Year 9 class for registration and I insist they discuss rather than chat. How do they feel about the way education is going? "All right, Sir - what's the big fuss?" Students at this school feel valued and know where they stand. After double English, CDT and science, I see them again after lunch. The hardest girl in the class approaches me after I attempt to involve them in discussion. "Sir, man, we've got more pressin' things,you know?" Point taken. A bottom set Year 8 and a top set Year 11 take up my energy for the rest of the day - quite satisfying.

Tuesday I feel a bit unnerved as I sit in the staffroom of another school. A bit like being the new kid, where old hands (that is, not NQTs) try to make you feel uncomfortable. A PE teacher, tutor to a pupil who earlier obviously needed to talk, answers my concern with the comment: "Well, she could lose a bit of weight." Looking down at my belly I suggest that he should focs on student achievement rather than the bodies of teenage girls. He looks at me with venom.

Wednesday In a German class a student says "Hitler hated gays" and a debate over whether it's okay to be gay follows. One student says, "All gays should be shot, innit Sir?" I remember my training and save that one for later. The consensus is that everyone is entitled to his or her own lifestyle.

Thursday I take up yesterday's homophobic comment with the head. He shows remorse. I get the chance to dictate a love poem by Yeats. The students love it. In the library I am approached by a group of three girls who show support for my apparent coolness in yesterday's "all gays should be shot" lesson.

Friday Tuesday's school is far away and I wish I could get a job in this one. The school day includes lower set geography, where a known miscreant rises to the top of the class. What a job.

Tom Prunty is a supply teacher in Essex


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