Thank God it's Friday

16th April 2004 at 01:00
Monday Half-term. My holiday begins with the packing of 110 trial exam papers. Unsurprisingly, the suitcase weighs in several pounds heavier than BA's baggage limit. I consider ditching the scripts at the airport, but decide the bins aren't big enough.

tuesday I read in an English newspaper that the Government is proposing an end to study leave for Year 11. All my precious weeks, post-GCSE, to catch up with the backlog of work from the rest of the year vanish at a stroke.

Although, given the state of the trial exams I'm marking, I concede that the Government might have a point.

wednesday Somebody, somewhere in the hotel, says they've heard something about another new exam system in which everyone can take as many exams as they want, whenever they want and as many times as they want, before cashing in their grades for some kind of grand prize qualification. "What a good idea," my informant tells me. "I remember collecting cigarette cards as a boy. There was fierce competition andI" An urgent appointment with the hotel swimming pool (for me, rather than him) prevents further discussion.

thursday The Government announces plans to make teachers personally responsible for youth crime: they - rather than the offender - will be sentenced for crimes their pupils have committed. "This measure," announces the government spokesman, "will force teachers to face up to responsibilities they have for so long evaded, no doubt while on holiday sunning themselves by hotel swimming pools pretending to mark exam papers.

Teachers must teach young people to obey the law or face the consequences of their miserable failure." I wake up. It's 2am. I do more marking.

friday Am I dreaming? Are there really plans to introduce random drug tests, administered by teachers and published as part of school league tables? Overseen by the new Office for Local Organisation and Administration of Drugs, or Ofload? With drug rehab programmes run in lesson time? And with repeat offenders taken into care? Their teacher's care? Visions of exam papers floating in the hotel swimming pool as men in white coats arrive at reception. End of the holiday. Beginning of the nightmare.

Tim Atkinson

Tim Atkinson is assistant head of Boston grammar school, Lincs

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