Thank God it's Friday

28th September 2001 at 01:00
MONDAY After three weeks of phone calls between school, social services and the home of Lucy, a Year 9 pupil, she returns to school. Her form tutor is relieved and feels responsible for making her return a success. She feels Lucy's problems can be tackled more effectively now.

But Lucy is missing by afternoon registration. Her tutor reports this to the head of year, who says he sent her home for wearing trainers. He knows the negotiations that have been taking place, but, he says, standards must be consistent.

TUESDAY Lucy doesn't turn up. The need for consistency is raised in the pastoral heads' meeting. Arguments in favour of flexibility and treating cases individually are shouted down. Without consistency there can be no control. I point out that Charlotte "A*" Phipps has had pink hair for the past term. It is assumed I am pointing this out so she can be spoken to.

WEDNESDAY A colleague's car breaks down on the way to work. She lives miles away and public transport doesn't reach there. She uses her mobile phone to tell school, and marks books on the train. She arrives at lunchtime and is summoned to the head's office. She is docked half a day's pay.

THURSDAY Staff meeting. We have implemented a computerised reports system. The deputy head venomously informs us that we've made spelling and grammatical errors. One colleague failed to meet the deadline. That colleague appears to think this is acceptable. That colleague has inconvenienced others. That colleague is not present to state her case. Staff leave angry and resentful.

FRIDAY A colleague's name is spelled incorrectly on a notice in the staffroom. The owner of the name corrects it. He is summoned by the deputy head. How dare he humiliate and undermine her? His action is a slap in the face of her authority. The use of a red pen has added insult to injury. Roll on next term, and a new life in a new school.

Chris Grace is a pseudonym. He teaches in the Midlands

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