The Swami of the Soundbite.
There is nothing Pompous loves more than a bit of nonsensical edu-jargon. Just don't ask him to explain it! He trawls thought OFSTED documents looking for the latest terminology he can shoe-horn into his swiney sermons and clumsily written policy documents. One of his current favourite slogans is 'community cohesion'. Apparently that is something I am responsible for. Once upon a time a teacher's responsibility was the 3 'R's - reading, writing and arithmetic (although, let's be honest, the fact that only one of them started with R wasn't great omen). Now I am responsible for health and wellbeing of the entire council estate. All for a salary of £24K!
'So, Pompous. You say I should make reference to 'community cohesion' in my lesson plans. Tell me, how should I do that? Can you define it for me?'
His silence following my question was so uncharacteristically unique that I wondered whether the blubbery baboon had choked on his own bullshit and slipped into a coma. I am still waiting for a definition and an answer.
Two Ears, but Only One Mouth
Picture the scene: a 'sharing assembly', where children talk about their good work. J-Lo had designed a poster to promote good listening in the classroom.
'By 'eck J-Lo. I like your drawing of ears. J-Lo, do you know why God gave us all two ears but only one mouth?'
(J-Lo opens her mouth to answer)
'I'll tell you J-Lo. I'll tell you, shall I? It's because we learn more when we listen, not speak. This makes me think of a story my dad told me back in Yorkshire, about when he was down pit . . . '
Fast forward 18 minutes later. Little J-Lo, who was selected to 'talk' about her work is cruelly dismissed back to her seat. The bemused child never got to utter a word.
East is East
One of Pompous's plans to elevate our sink estate school from the mire of violence, poor results and low-aspirations (and that is just amongst the teaching staff!) is to send us Stepfords on a tax-payers financed jolly to India. He thinks it will be a voyage of self-discovery. We shall return revitalised, rejuvenated and inspired. All we have to do is donate our Autumn half-term break and we will be spirited away to a community centre in Bangalore from which we will visit local schools, temples and communities.
I was amused to read a scathing article in The Daily Mail, criticising a local authority for spending thousands on sending teachers on a similar jaunt. I do appear to be finding myself agreeing with the neo-fascist views of The Mail more and more, as I get older. It worries me. I fear one day I'll find myself wearing Nancy Reagan jeans, railing against asylum seakers and bowing every morning to a framed picture of Princess Diana. But, in this case I DO agree. If Pompous wants to go 'find himself' on some middle-aged gap year then fair enough. But, that money could have paid for extra teaching assistants, a new IT classroom or a school library.
Plus, the thought of a week in India with him truly is the stuff of nightmares: the Bangalore toilets, the sight of Pompous sweating in a cheesecloth kaftan, an entire half-term spent in the company of Stepfords.
The beetrooty buffoon cornered me in the staffroom last week.
'Miss Underscore. You've not signed up for India. I am surprised. How could anyone turn such an opportunity down?'
'Ah, I'm planning on a week in Scarborough, Pompous. I'm too pale for India. And I'm worried there won't be any quilted toilet paper.'
Success is its own Reward. So is being a little shit.
The behaviour of some of our children is nothing short of horrific. This is why we now have a police officer stationed in school. The class next door to me (the class that Pompous tried to bully me into taking on) is a case in point. They spit, punch, swear, kick and menace each other and their teacher. Supply teachers are never sent in there. During my lessons I can hear the furniture being thrown and the screaming. It's a mini Bedlam. Maybe a teacher should not feel this way, but some of those kids are just evil little shits. You can talk to me about background and neglect, and I can sympathise - but nearly all of our children come from a similar background and most are lovely kids.
Pompous is at a loss how to handle the nest of vipers next door to me. His strategy seems to be to throw money at them. If they behave themselves for a day they get taken bowling, bought cakes, are excused from lessons to go play football. Yesterday, in assembly, he Pompous blustered that if they all behaved for ONE week he would give them £200 budget and they could have a trip, anywhere they wanted within a 200 mile radius!
As he announced this I watched the faces of my class, who are always as good as gold. They may not be the brightest kids in the school, but even they were thinking it:
'What about us? We're good every day. What do we get?'