What keeps me awake at night - Charming head turned on me. Now I'm dead meat

4th November 2011 at 00:00

He breezed into our school like a cross between Tony Blair and an evangelical preacher. Immaculate, from his neatly groomed hair (lots of it) to his impossibly shiny shoes. Flashing his megawatt smile, he enthusiastically pumped the hands of every member of staff; hell, he practically kissed babies. Female members of staff blushed as he made eye contact, learnt names with astonishing speed and charmed the birds out of the proverbial.

Meetings are fun, fun, fun: lots of standing up, sitting down, swapping partners. He "values" our input. We have salsa lessons on Inset days - such fun! I fully expect him to "do a David Brent" at the Christmas party and start break-dancing - I won't be there to see it, unless attendance is compulsory. "Fun" activities seem to be compulsory these days.

Ten months on, our emails are scrutinised, our internet access is severely curtailed. We receive approximately six emails a day ticking us off for this, firmly reminding us of that. The SMT is losing weight as members rush around looking busy, busy, busy. I hope he'll be giving them Botox for Christmas; their brows are like corrugated iron. The honeymoon is over.

Other staff mutter about all the additional monitoring, meetings, paperwork and analysis being introduced on a weekly basis. A colleague whispers bitterly in my ear that there is no time to plan or teach anymore, as we're so busy doing all of the above.

And I have severely blotted my copybook - my card is marked. It was a pretty heinous crime; here is my confession.

On the last day of term, one of my Year 11s is wearing black jeans, not trousers. I should issue her with a green form to take to the office, her parents should be phoned, she should be sent home to change. But it is the last day of term, so I tell her to make sure she's properly attired for the first day of term. She cheerfully agrees.

Next lesson, the head storms into my room. It is evident he is unhappy. I am hauled out for a private word. The six-minute bollocking (yes, I timed it) that ensues seems a tad OTT. For the crime of allowing an improperly dressed student to stay in school I am accused of everything from incompetence to deliberately undermining his sacred school rules. His head wobbles with righteous indignation and small beads of sweat form on his upper lip. I'm too old for this shit.

I return shakily to my class and sit down. They look at me in stunned silence. Eventually a small voice from the back says, "Please Sir, don't leave." I'm choked up. No, I won't leave. I'll stay, not just to be a thorn in his side, but because I care about the children I'm responsible for. I'll read up on employment law and make sure I do nothing he could legitimately sack me for. I'll speak up for the teachers who are scared of him, always acting the gentleman, naturally. Thorn in his side? He ain't seen nothing yet.

The writer is a maths teacher from London, five years from retirement. To tell us what keeps you awake at night email david.marley@tes.co.uk.

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