"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6.8

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Revision, child abuse, timetabling and farting.

Ah, the end of half-term. We are now officially on holiday. I say we. I mean me. I am hoping that my Yr 10 and 11 students, having been furnished with comprehensive revision booklets, will be busily slaving away over a hot keyboard in preparation for their exams in May. Yr 11 have ten lessons left and Year 10 have 12. As they seem sublimely unconcerned about this I suppose my hopes that they will be working will, as ever, be proved to be so much wishful thinking.

It's only R.S. after all.

I stood in the doorway on Friday to welcome my form in to registration and Katie arrived with a vivid red slap mark on her cheek. (I saw this in profile as she walked past me to her usual seat.) Now I am trained in the child protection procedures and, having taken the register was about to go over to Katie to take her out into the corridor where I could ask her about her slap mark. As I approached, forming my kind and empathic first phrase, she rummaged in her bag and got out her make-up. She was now full face on and, as she applied yet more blusher to her burning cheeks, I was able to see my mistake. She had not been slapped, she was going for the full on Coco the clown look.

Too much slap of quite a different sort.

Having had a nightmare with my second Yr 9 class of the day during their last lesson, I had arranged today for the four key players to do their R.S. work sat at the back of their form teachers' lessons. The public humiliation of being seen by - and looked down on by - Yr 11 students working on their maths or French exam work is clearly a chastening experience as the three musketeers returned to my lesson with two minutes to go in a very subdued manner.

Would that the same could be said for my disaffected Yr 11 class. I have already moved one girl R.S. groups on the basis of a parental demand, and today I was presented with a second such letter. The problem is that R.S. is blocked against wider Key Skills (no, me neither) on the timetable and a change of one subject necessitates a change of both and the teacher in charge of Wider Key Skills is implacably opposed to any change.

Last week my pal Bill, Head of Maths, wanted to change the maths groups of six students. For various reasons I won't bother you with here, this required a change of R.S. groups too.

And behold! It was so.

No discussion, after all it is maths. How easy it was for the Head of maths to effect change.

Still, it's only R.S.

This week, a term and a half into the academic year, the Science Dept. decided that it would be a great idea if the brightest kids in Yr 10 studied three separate sciences. This meant that they would drop Wider Key Skills (they didn't much care) to pick up the required extra teaching time. I was presented with a list of children who would, as a consequence, have to change R.S. groups.

About 30 of them. Thirty triple science kids would have to move from one block of R.S. groups to another but, to balance things out, another thirty who weren't taking triple science would also have to move from the classes the first lot were joining to the classes they'd left.

And behold! It was so.

No discussion, after all it is science. How easy it was for the Head of science to effect change.

My carefully crafted group dynamics now lie in tatters but its O.K. because Science is happy.

I want to move a kid R.S. groups and there has to be a year long public enquiry.

Still, it's only R.S.

Anyway, back to Yr 11. I have changed the seating plan. One boy has been withdrawn because of his special needs and another is on the verge of long-term exclusion. The last couple of lessons have not been too bad and there has been a sense of general calm and purposefulness. However, what is clear is the boys - well, the three remaining key players anyway - do not have the concentration span to cope with an hour.

After forty five minutes I notice a whole row of kids with their uniform jumpers covering their faces. The girls stoically continue with their work while the boys are giggling. There is a loud noise. It is a fart. (I hope it is a wet fart.)

Josh - 16, male, hormonal, man-child - can not seem to allow this moment to pass unremarked. He shrieks with joy and, in the way that only an attention-seeking youth can, brings the lesson to an abrupt halt with his overdone impersonation of the laughing policeman.

On cue Bill and Adam take Josh's lead. There is much cat-calling and blame laying. "You dirty bastard."

There was no need to do that. A more mature person would simply have got up and gone outside, sparing us both the smell and the disruption.

No one looks chastened.

I look at Josh. How can one boy have so many blackheads?

And a more mature person wouldn't feel it necessary to make a big thing out of it.

Then I think of my dear friend the mad physics teacher and realise that some boys never grow up.

It must have been ... oh ... six, seven, seconds back into the relative peace and quiet of Religion and Planet Earth (the enviroment (sic))when it happens again. It is a very long, loud, extended fart. The girls now object vociferously while the boys offer their out-of-ten rating. There are some high fives.

Is that methane? You know methane is a greenhouse gas.


  1. This really made me laugh out loud. It is the first one I have read but will be taking a look at the rest.
    Love it!!

  2. What can I say, except that you made me laugh out loud, too? It's almost like old times when you were a doorman. And how wise you are to keep matters in the proper perspective. It's only R.S. after all.

  3. Ah teens. Reminded me a bit of "Blazing Saddles."

  4. Oh dear! I am so glad I work in Sixth form - my A2 Lit group are an utter joy to be with. On a less positive note, I am slowly working through two sets of 3,500 word essays and a set of AS Language coursework folders- four pieces of work in each. It will take me all of half term. I am not on holiday!

  5. I sympathise I really do. What's really sad is that most adults have no idea what life in the classroom is like. We've all been to school so we all know the routine and that makes us think we're experts. I can imagine few more thankless jobs. The whole farting thing brings back memories. I think I may have been the Josh of my day. I cringe now. I was a total dick!