Thank God it's Friday

5th December 2003 at 00:00
Monday I tell a member of my tutor group to put away her mobile phone. During the ensuing conversation on the rules, another student says his father was in a bank queue and saw a three-year-old kicking up a fuss and refusing a dummy. The only effective pacifier her father had was his mobile.

Tuesday Today I am the pacifier. A girl repeatedly takes out her mobile phone during a lesson and forces a confrontation with her teacher. I am summoned when she voices a more obscene, but equally childish observation about the school and teacher.

Wednesday Loud voices outside my classroom come from two boys sent out of their lesson for being disruptive. They are playing a game on a mobile. I confiscate it and tell them they can collect it from their head of year after school. "No problem," one whispers, "I'll get it off him at break."

When I recount this to the HOD, he is so annoyed he starts making up punishments. The best of which is to call a number in the US on the phone.

But professionalism, naturally, prevails.

Thursday In Year 10 tests, a question asks candidates to write a letter to a newspaper about mobiles. One criticism recurs: "It is annoying when someone you're with lets their phone ring and you suddenly find yourself left out." I am reassured.

Friday I am reassured no longer. A colleague accosts me. While she was speaking to a mother at last night's parents' evening, the woman's mobile rang. "I had to sit there while she told her son where in the fridge she had left his supper."

Colin Padgett is a head of department in a north-west Essex comprehensive school

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