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Welcome aboard the fast train

Good morning everyone, and welcome to college. I'm the principal, and I'll be taking you through your teacher-training course.

I know how excited you must be now that the Government has whittled the length of the course down from six months to three days. What I want to do in this seminar is introduce some of the things we'll be covering during the next 64 hours. If you're successful, you'll receive a sticker, and then off you go into your new career. Or at least until the recession goes away.

Of course, it'll be pretty intensive. Well, not that intensive. It's common knowledge that anybody can become a teacher - just so long as they haven't been arrested for anything serious and they can string a few sentences together.

Now, before we get cracking, I want to remind you that teaching has some excellent perks. How many weeks are there in a year? Bankers ... come on ... you're good at maths?

No, sorry, there are actually 52. But you get 13 of 'em off. That's one quarter of an entire year when you don't have to do any work. And what's more, you won't have to stay at the office till six. You'll be home well in time for Neighbours.

Quite a few of you have asked me about the curriculum. Stop worrying. Years ago, you'd have needed quite a lot of knowledge to be a teacher. But now? Simplicity. In your classroom you'll have something called an interactive whiteboard. And provided your school hasn't spent all its budget on things like teachers and teaching assistants, it'll be connected to the internet. You download all your lessons, absolutely free, and many even tell you what to say to the children. It's so much better than having to think up your own lessons, and we do like everybody to be teaching exactly the same thing.

Many of you are worried about behaviour management. Well, don't be. We've got a consultant who's going to give you a lecture on it tomorrow. He's never actually been a teacher, but I'm sure you'll find his theories give you something to think about. And, these days, technology helps. Science teachers won't have to worry about children setting each other alight with the Bunsen burner, because experiments can be shown interactively. And that means parents won't bother to sue you.

Any estate agents in here? Excellent. Teaching English won't present you with any problems, then. You're already very good at what we call "persuasive writing". These days, we just tend to toss a few extracts from books at the children. We call it genre exploration. No need to give them the whole book to read, because that means less time to cram ... sorry, coach them for their tests.

Passing tests is the only reason children go to school - always remember that. If your children fail, you'll feel the heat from school improvement partners, senior monitoring managers, local education authority teaching and learning auditors, Ofsted inspectors and lots of other people with grand titles who talk a lot about stuff called data but aren't always sure what a child is.

Now, as time is short, there won't actually be any practical teaching on this course. Instead, we want you to write down what you think a child is. You can illustrate it with a picture ...

Just a minute. Where are you all going? You've heard that the course for becoming a brain surgeon has been cut down to three months, the pay's better and the patients don't answer back?

Oh dear, back to the recruitment drawing board.

Mike Kent is headteacher of Comber Grove Primary in Camberwell, south London. Email:

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