We love creating a scene ...

1st June 2007 at 01:00
A TEACHER stages a toilet cubicle sit-in. Another lies semi-conscious in a stockroom after being felled with a golf club.

A third teacher watches a lesson implode in front of inspectors. And a headteacher questions the purpose of no-trainer rules after being diagnosed with a tumour.

These are the characters in the Staffroom Monologues, a series of Alan Bennett-style narratives, written by teachers.

The four monologues were selected from 725 entries submitted to Teachers TV. Tony Marchant, writer of TV dramas such as Mark of Cain and the BBC's adaptation of Crime and Punishment, gave scriptwriting advice. But the winning teachers drew on their own classroom experiences of school life.

Susie Paskins, RE teacher at Nonsuch high in Surrey, wrote What Would The Buddha Have Done? about an RE teacher faced with an inspection. "I'm an RE teacher," her character says. "It's the kiss of death at parties."

Ms Paskins said: "Generally, people are quite embarrassed when you tell them you're an RE teacher. They think you're weird. I have been an English teacher, so I always tell them that. Then they just go on about grammar."

In Locked Stockroom and Two Smoking Gerbils, Sheffield supply teacher Steve Eddison visualises a protocol-spouting head attacked by a pupil wielding a golf club.

"There's been a divorce between what happens in management structures and in class," Mr Eddison says. "Sometimes it's a battle you can't win."

He is not alone in tackling the battle between head and teacher. In Eating Apricots by Calderdale primary teacher Janet Spooner, a weeping teacher retreats into the toilets after being summarily fired.

Tony Marchant says: "Teachers probably feel that they're not allowed to be as creative as they'd like to be. It's important that teachers have a platform for their own experiences. There's still a bit of mythology around teaching. It's refreshing to get underneath, to understand what teachers have to get to grips with day by day."

The playwrights argue that much of human life is in a school. This is explicit in the fourth monologue, The Road Ahead by Oliver Blond, head of Henrietta Barnett secondary in north London. A headteacher questions her priorities after discovering she has a tumour.

"Schools are very funny places," Ms Paskins says. "Funny things happen all the time. And they're also places of great tension. There's a lot of material there."

* 'Staffroom Monologues' will be shown on Teachers TV nightly from June 11 until June 14 at 8pm


"Are we properly engaging him, Miss Bloodpressure? Are his needs being met in your differentiated lessons? Have you made reference to his Personalised Learning Plan? Have you taken account of the fact he's a kinaesthetic learner?

"Does he have a pastoral support programme? Does he have a sticker chart? Does he have a time-out card?

"Does he have an egg-timer? Has he had his medication, Miss Bloodpressure? Miss Bloodpressure ... put the three-iron down ..."

From Locked Stockroom and Two Smoking Gerbils by Steve Eddison (above), supply teacher, Sheffield "I'm an RE teacher. I don't tell many people that. Well, it's the kiss of death at parties. What do you do? I'm a teacher. That's bad enough. What do you teach? RE. So then they either change the subject out of sheer embarrassment or tell me how marvellous Richard Dawkins is and how true it is that religion is all biologically determined. Funny, really, when they're all so desperate to get their kids into St Mary's ..."

From What Would the Buddha Have Done? by Susie Paskins, RE and critical-thinking teacher, Surrey "I said I'd done the dyslexia training, I knew they weren't just lazy and I'd even given Daniel from Year 3 the benefit of the doubt when he started spitting in assembly because he isn't all there, after all. 'Autistic,' she said. 'He's on the autistic spectrum.' 'I do try,' I said. 'I know,' she said."

From Eating Apricots by Janet Spooner, Year 4 teacher, Calderdale Photograph: Teachers TV

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