When an emergency assembly is called at 2.35pm on a Thursday afternoon, you know it's serious. Our headteacher is out today, so Laura Croft (aka our deputy head) is in charge. She waits like a coiled spring as the students shuffle into their respective rows. There is a moment when Ryan contemplates crossing his eyes at Rebecca, but Ms Croft fixes him with her steely gaze, and he thinks better of it. He crosses his legs instead. He doesn't know it yet but he will be crossing his legs a lot more after today.
Ms Croft slips into combat mode. Wham! She is extremely unhappy about having to use valuable learning time to deliver a stern lecture on respecting our school. Slam! How can we hope to save the planet if the importance of not wasting precious natural resources is blatantly ignored? Smack! Children between the ages of 7 and 11 are old enough to exercise bladder control. Thwack! From now on, all children will need to plan their toilet visits outside of lessons.
"That's what teachers have to do," she says, and for some reason holds up her iPad to confirm this. I expect she has an app for timetabling toilet visits into a busy schedule of teaching periods and administrative duties. I envisage comfort breaks indicated by green highlights and strained faces that turn into smiles of relief once urinary targets have been met.
"Teachers don't go wandering to the loo in the middle of a lesson, do they?" She aims a quick glance in my direction, as if to say even older male teachers with prostate problems. "Well, from now on, you don't either. Children will only be allowed to visit the loo during lesson time in dire emergencies. And these will be recorded and logged into a toilet-visit-monitoring database. That way we will know exactly who went and when."
Our emergency assembly is in response to the serious incident that occurred today between 1.30pm and 1.50pm, when a person or persons unknown carried out an act of sabotage in the boys' toilets.
At 1.54pm, a child on his way to the office to get a bump note spotted water seeping from under the door of the boys' toilets. At 2.02pm, he reported this to his class teacher. At 2.03pm, his teacher sent him back to the office to report it to someone further up the chain of command.
At 2.04pm, Ms Croft was alerted and went to investigate. By this time, the corridor near the boys' toilets was seriously flooded. She contemplated taking her shoes off, but changed her mind when she thought about where the water was coming from. So she waded in to discover that all five sinks had been deliberately blocked with paper towels and the taps turned on.
At 2.08pm, Ms Croft rang the caretaker. He was off-site but said he would get there as soon as he could. At 2.12pm, armed with nothing more than some rubber gloves and a mop, she waded into action. By the time the caretaker arrived with a yellow warning cone, it was all over. Laura Croft, Loo Raider, had averted a catastrophe of biblical proportions.
At 2.31pm, she checked her watch. "Time to call an assembly and kick some ass," said Ms Croft.
Steve Eddison teaches at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield, England.