"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Monday, September 19, 2005

More tales from the trenches

Here's how an overpaid bureaucrat-educationalist might describe the situation in the average Glasgow school: "Some of our youngsters are a little 'lively' and it can be a 'challenge' to keep them 'on task' (these idiots often actually say these things and do that pathetic indication of quotation marks with their fingers). This is often due to their sometimes 'inappropriate' behaviour towards teachers, with whom they are occasionally 'over-familiar'".

Actually, the above is far too comprehensible, but you get the idea...

The reality: on Friday one of my new comrades - we'll call him Fred - was assaulted for the heinous crime of ejecting a pupil, who was disrupting the learning of others, from the room. His 'line-manager' (i.e. the head of department) said, "Outrageous behaviour, Fred. Don't worry, we'll make sure this is dealt with thoroughly".

Except he didn't: he said to Fred at the end of the period, "Now, here's where you went wrong..."

Fred interrupts and says, "Here's where you're going to go wrong - if you try and finish that sentence. I've been assaulted and I don't care how you do it, I want it dealt with. And while you're at it, write me up a reference and it better be a good one..." (You'll sense Fred is a tad pissed-off at this point.)

Later that day, DHT (we'll call him Archie) comes to talk to Fred.

"So, I trust that you've come to tell me that (pupil x) is being put out?"

"Well, it's not as simple as that - y'see, pupil x has made a Complaint".

"He's made a Complaint?", says Fred - "About what, exactly?"

"He says you called him a wank in the corridor".

"Was this supposed to have happened after he assaulted me?"

"Erm, yes..."

"Don't you see what's going on here?"

"Well, did you?"

"Please tell me you're fucking joking?"

The question is re-asked and Fred is put in the position of having to say, "Of course I didn't". He then agrees to participate in the meeting that is to be set up to investigate the "incident" (the alleged swearing as much as the assault) but not before he tells Archie that if he can't get some assurance that something will be done, he's popping out to the cop shop at lunchtime to report the incident.

Now, I can't verify the detail of every sentence and chain of events - but something like this happened. And something like this happens all the time in Scotland's schools. Nothing gets done about it. I blame the teachers myself: my colleagues aren't nearly angry enough about this sort of shit.

Our glorious Executive (the bureaucracy formerly known as the Scottish Office) has never quite managed to get the balance between the availability of trained teachers and the number of posts quite right. For instance, there are a number of unfilled vacancies including in my own council at the moment. Yet there are 30 000 trained teachers in Scotland currently not working in teaching.

Funny that...



Update: Difficult to believe but the situation becomes even more absurd. The offender hasn't been excluded but simply shifted from one section to another. The reason? Fred has been informed that this is because the allegation concerning the swearing cannot be disproved since there were no witnesses! Fred said to his head of department, "So that means I can give you a slap and get away with it if I claimed you swore at me afterwards?" Fred, as you can imagine, is at the spitting blood stage. The union said to ask the management how they can possibly justify such inaction on such a ludicrous basis and to get back to them with the response. That should be, um, interesting...

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