Sunday, 8 July 2012

Burned and frazzled

In perfect unblemished, glittering and glowing hindsight it was of course no surprise that my funny, helpful and wise colleague, let's call him Dave, finally flared, fizzled and frazzled out of work. The husk of a professional is off until the end of term now. He had been holding on, keeping his head down, doing the right thing by his students not that many of the them would appreciate it. Dave was quietly waiting to get to early retirement in a couple of years. However, under the new uptight joyless siege regime of ever tighter lesson planning requirements, supposedly supportive 'learning walks', unannounced unsupportive observations, new dangerously flaming hoops to jump through, random checking of planning,  book checks (are you marking in green?), incomprehensibly inconsistent SLT application of the risible Behaviour for Learning (once known as discipline policy) something was going  to give in someone who entered teaching when it was, well, mostly teaching and a real vocation.

Not needing nor caring even less for this new Ofsted inspired total bollocks (my mortgage is paid) I would question much of it, the way it is being interpreted in our department and make various comments that others were thinking but deemed unconstructive by the HoD who will swat any questions or gambits for discussion away. Therefore, happily,  I am generally avoided by the much younger HoD and her eunuch puppy of a number two who is a slippery grinning Arsenal fan - not much more need be added.  However, others fearful of not towing the line for whatever reason do. For example, Dave has been a stalwart of education, the department and school who had been dragged under by all the new bullshit happily, poorly, and ignorantly applied by the Northern Nazi and her equally useless and inconsistent (that word again), line manager an ambitionless time server (with a love of civil war recreations) who, like the Wise Head, has only ever worked in one school. They rose the ranks from trainee teacher to their current positions which is not especially healthy, or redolent of much of a wider vision.  Some might say Dave was being picked on, that faults were being found where there were none. A possible view of the future as we now have to work longer hours, prepare more to fit the latest mould or risk being found wanting, or worse, in need of support,  unless proven otherwise.

There were many moments when Dave spoke uncomplainingly and wistfully to me about how things had changed, I sometimes took this for the whinging that all teachers make.  I now assume this to have been his way of saying it was becoming difficult to cope and possibly asking for a bit of help or just an ear. Blokes don't generally do that especially those of a certain vintage, they will cope, or pretend to, laugh in a hollow way and talk too much of drink, wine usually, as if it is a pleasure well earned after dealing with a problem when it has also become a creeping problem in itself.

Dave's classes - the 10s and sixth form have been sort of divvied out among the rest of us. The vile 9s all claiming his scalp go to whichever poor sod gets cover and the sevens are left to mutate into Year 8s who have already undergone The Change and are now Lynx/BO odourful gobby midget 9s. What fun they will be next year.

Within the department there are false words and no suggestion of sympathy with attempts to get the student teacher to take on more. He is good and willing but there is a sniff of filling not quite a dead man's shoes which mingles well with the odour of bullshit from the appalling self-justifying Miss W****** and SLT  and the passing of retrospective blame for all the multi-shortcomings of the department which sailed along nicely until they chose someone who looked good and interviewed far better than her evident sub- mediocrity and over-opinionated view of herself should have allowed for.
I am not the person to tell her that being orange is not cool and that a personalised number plate may be a sign of arrogance or inadequacy.

Education a caring profession? It was once, I remember it well and doubtless it is considered so in other places, but not here, not in coastal Kent with the divisive 11+ and residual schools, and unfinished / started BSF buildings, nor in many other places either, and definitely not with G*ve and Ofsted and heads more concerned with playing the destructive league tables.  If an education system were to be designed from scratch it would look nothing like it does.