Sunday, 21 October 2012

In the Gulf

Now, it's been a few weeks I've been away from the stupidity of the  exam fixing Academy which was once a school in which I worked and lost my skills. I'm sure the AQA would have been concerned about the way exams went home with some teachers, I did inform them, but there was never any response from the gutless tossers.  Anyway that's foul, soulless  and sordid mismanaged history, well, it was MFL (among others I believe) actually but now I'm now happily ensconced down by the warm seas and white beaches of the Arabian Gulf - a strange and amusing place far from familiar people and places and far from the rot which  passed as a professional life working in a reprehensible self-deluding factory for that is what it was - with the head and assorted pointless lickspittles leading by fearful example grubbily begging the question as to whether teachers do make the best heads.

In terms of teaching it's great here- I have my courses to teach (free periods abound), one short meeting a week, voluntary PD to which you actually want to go, no tutor group (which I do miss ) but it is compensated for, but only just  mind, by paying no tax a bit like Starbucks, Amazon and various overly rich folk. Now there's a rarely made comparison.  Importantly, I am treated as a pro who will, like my new shiny multi-national colleagues, get on with our jobs in a professional and happy way. Everyone appears to get on and there do not appear (yet?) to be any politics not least as politics tend to be somewhat discouraged in the Gulf. 

There are no threatening misnomered learning walks from pointless over-promoted but insecure self-important HoDs (with personalised school number plate) or grunting unimaginative beardy SLT.  (Apologies to decent HoDs and SLT).  A once yearly appraisal is all along with supposedly anonymous student feedback. There will be observations but they are not in that slavish imagined box ticking way Ofsted would do...and marking in green ink is optional. We take turns to observe one another for differing practice which is what we used to do not so long ago before imagination and initiative were stifled by Ofsted inspired damaging neurosis and fearful paranoia, in the days when education, for me at least, was threat free and well,  fun.

For sure there are some downsides - no unions and any form of collective action is outlawed, the press self-censors, the driving is appalling (Allah's will and all that pre-medieval goat herd cack), and the call to prayer does bring to mind some kind of 50s horror zombie film. Then again back at the academy in coastal Kent the unions were moribund with people only joining them in case they were called for being a paedo and younger teachers were very Daily Mail in their view of them, so perhaps I'm not missing anything. Well, I'll know if ever I need one.

So Eid approaches which, incidentally,  is Arabic for half-term - the mythical work-life balance is back, balanced more in favour of life, the sun shines every day. Even better  my students, who have no idea what Lynx is, want to learn, kids don't stare at their crotches and smile as they don't dare text in lessons. My fellow colleague is not ground down by useless unsupportive management and boundaryless kids.

However, my inner cynic, honed by too long in my last coastal Kent crap academy, says that there can only be one way  from here when things seem  so initially good they can only go down...

...or not...?