Young bucks and staffroom elders;Opinion

24th April 1998 at 01:00
One foot in the grave, the other in the classroom. The average age of the social subjects staff in my school is 46. I don't believe it!

Of the 162 teachers in the school less than a dozen are under 30 years old, which is abominable. Most of us resemble escapees from Shangri La. Teaching is becoming the oldest profession.

Old masters are changing the canvas of school life. In staff versus pupils football matches "veterans" are regularly humiliated. Last year our staff team, which boasts FOUR ex-professionals, lost 6-0. Old heads on old bodies trying to relive old glories are a sad sight. Sadder still is seeing staff players receiving treatment for injuries before the game starts! Gone are the days when the young buck teachers would toy with the boys.

End of term bashes are held in cosy wee pubs, away from all that "disco thump-thump" the young ones listen to these days. Sex and football, key topics of staff night outs in 1979, are taboo. Conversation today revolves around AVC's, mortgages and the chores of child rearing. Stating that you believe the school development plan has any relevance to classroom teaching is a sure sign of drunkenness.

Songs which defined your life are covered by Boy bands and made to sound superficial. Attempted trendiness can be fatal. Recently our school chaplain played The Hollies "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" over the tannoy. (I enjoyed it!). And staff put on a charity karaoke for the pupils who were "entertained" by the songs of modern pop icons such as Bobby Darin and Elvis.

Teachers who were sixties hippies are now in their fifties and believe Higher Still is a stronger grass than usual. They welcome new initiatives such as national testing. After all, they'll be retired before full implementation.

Student teachers are the ones with their own teeth and hair. Like policemen, they get younger every year. Looking around most staffrooms, student teachers can easily feel like carers at an eventide home. Grey-haired and nae-haired men - the Staffroom Elders - sit in jealously guarded chairs, jabbering loudly. Crotchety crones, dying to look younger, whine about the "good old days" when you didn't need to lock your classroom door and a Lochgelly was only 26d. A flaky Mr. Chips sits beside a blue rinse Miss Brodie well past her prime.

The situation has been exacerbated by an infusion of "old blood" wrinkly supply teachers. Old teachers don't die. They take the golden handshake, holiday off-season in Magaluf and then come back for more of the folding stuff.

Some look like they were exhumed rather than telephoned to come to school. As these grim teachers shuffle from class to class their presence undercuts the argument that teaching is stressful. They have no discipline problems. No discipline, no problem. When classes become outrageous they turn off the hearing aid.

You're probably saying that these are the words of an embittered, fat, baldy, 42- year-old, but you're wrong. I'm not embittered. Rather than exhaling my death breath, I have been given the kiss of life by the discovery that the Scottish Office is considering making it a criminal offence for teachers to have a "relationship" with pupils above the age of consent.

This situation may have been a problem 20 years ago when the age gap was sometimes less than a decade. Today it would only occur if the teacher was in possession of a jackpot-winning Lottery ticket. Brian Wilson obviously has his finger on the pulse. 'Tis a pity the finger is attached to a dead hand. But hey, the voters have to be reassured their daughters are safe in the hands of silver haired Sir. The way things are going I feel like putting my other foot in the grave.

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