Thank God it's Friday

14th February 1997 at 00:00
Monday. The potholes in the car park seem even deeper after the weekend and are now filled with muddy brown water. I enter the staffroom with one wet foot, a spongy sock and a shoe the texture of warm liver. I'm woken during the head's briefing by the sound of gasps.

We are to be inspected by OFSTED for the second time in two-and-a-half years. Apparently, this is just the luck of the draw. We are implored to "work together . . . as a team". This will be my fourth general inspection in the past six years.


There is a deputy head in my classroom during morning registration. Something is obviously wrong. He has discarded his "man of the people" pose and adopted "cock of th' estate" with matching strut. I am reminded of Mel Brooks in The Producers.

As my form leaves, he begins, "May I have a word? Your comment on the back of the staffroom door . . ."

I am accused of writing a derogatory comment about a member of the senior management team on a poster depicting an ostrich with its head in the sand. "Not I, and not funny," I reply.

He continues to explain that such comments are not professional. As he shuffles off, I visualise the ostrich with its head in an altogether more intimate place. Now that would be funny.


Today I receive a note from a parent explaining a child's absence that goes straight to number six in my personal top 10 of parents' notes. The girl was off school as "we have been having problems with our front passage". I recommend an aspidistra as it doesn't need much light and livens up a place considerably.


I am studying Alan Bennett's Talking Heads with Year 12 and show A Private Function as part of the preparation. It is met with almost complete silence. One student leaves, on the verge of tears. The remainder shuffle uncomfortably, wincing at the scenes in the butcher's shop.

I am sitting behind most of them, and have to stuff my hand into my mouth to stifle the laughter provoked by the sight of Maggie Smith luring Betty the Pig towards the gas oven. I conclude that I am teaching a regiment of the Animal Liberation Front.


I am invited to meet the headteacher. I am not alone and the staffroom is buzzing with accounts of interrogations about the ostrich poster comment, now known as Postergate.

I am told that my handwriting matches that of the offending comment, and am shown the poster, now labelled exhibit A. Suddenly, I am 13 again, fingering the hem of my shorts and wondering if my mum will be involved.

Tom Sleeman writes under a pseudonym. He is a teacher in a West Midlands comprehensive

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