Thank God it's Friday

27th April 2001 at 01:00
Monday There is a uniformed police constable in my form room first thing. Moments later a white-coated doctor joins him. At the window sit a pirate and a 5ft white rabbit. It is non-uniform day and my Year 12 class have decreed fancy dress to raise funds for the Indian earthquake appeal. I am out of costume, and they give me a hard time. I explain that a teacher is already in role and an inspector is in to observe me today. By lunchtime they have invented a childhood trauma for me. Apparently I turned up to a birthday party dressed as Superman when, in fact, it wasn't fancy dress.

Tuesday 9W2 are looking at the art of persuasion. I ask if they can complete Churchill's phrase "Never in the field of human conflict..."I see 31 blank faces. Dale asks if Churchill was "that fat bloke with a cigar". I remember this class couldn't date the Battle of Britain correctly in our Xmas quiz - one team thought it was "something to do with Henry VIII".

Wednesday I am completing reports for Year 11 and call up their Year 10 reports on the network to save recopying the school template. I find my comments and tarets are almost identical to last year and wonder if I should distribute the reports unaltered with a standard letter, like a bank manager: "Please check if any of the above details have changed and amend accordingly..."

Thursday 9W2 are studying Nelson Mandela's inauguration speech. They know a little more about him than Churchill, but their knowledge is based mainly on Ground Force. Twenty-seven years in prison, a lifetime's struggle and you are famous because Alan Titchmarsh does your garden. The sixth form's fundraising efforts have passed pound;700. They could teach 9W2 a thing or two about persuasion.

FRIDAY Final Year 9 lesson of the week. We look at a speech from Sojourner Truth and a pupil notices Emmeline Pankhurst's name on the facing page. The floodgates open: "Leading suffragette, Sir... Campaigned for female emancipation... Force-fed on hunger strike, Sir..." I realise shamefacedly that they do know their history, just not all of it. It's the pleasant surprises that persuade me to keep at this.

John Gallagher teaches at Myton school, a large comprehensive in Warwickshire

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