Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Joys of supply teaching.

A follow twitterer this morning uttered the words best guaranteed to make me shudder. Great Baddow.
I had been out of teaching for three years whilst we lived half way up a mountain in N Wales. On arrival in Chelmsford I  left my name with the LEA in the hope of some supply work eventually . The phone rang whilst we were still in the packing case stage at home. They had an emergency...could I get there in the morning please?
I got there.  By the morning break I was able to ask what had happened to the lady I was replacing.
She'd had a breakdown of some sort, ending with her pouring a cup of tea over the headmaster.
After a morning I could quite see why anyone could have had a breakdown,  the children were unruly, unpleasant and very noisy. I had never ever had any disciplinary problems in any other school so I was confident I could sort it all out given time.
At lunch time all the teachers disappeared. I was alone in the dining room apart from one man who said we had to eat fast, there was going to be trouble. It was during a period of teacher unrest and they were all working to rule, not doing lunchtime or playground duties. They had sensibly gone to the pub. I would have gone with them if asked!
We ate our lunch at a rapid rate and then went back to the staffroom through corridors of boys who had just realised that no one was on duty. we walked past the head who was studiously looking in the opposite direction and making no attempt to quell the mounting hysteria.
The man I had eaten with barricaded us into the staffroom, locking the door in case they wanted to come in and we listened to what later we realised was an actual riot. Lockers were pushed over, windows broken. Small children terrified into rushing around screaming.
I have no idea what it all cost the school... but when it was described as a riot in the local paper the head hotly denied it...but I knew the truth!
I stayed for a term and was asked to make it permanent. I declined the kind offer.


  1. Well done you to have the stamina and courage to stay for a whole term. It sounds an absolute nightmare of a job.
    The head sounds as useful as a chocolate teapot.
    I really don't envy anyone who has to teach these days. Some schools sound as though they need bouncers rather than teachers!

  2. I often wonder about discipline in school and who actually teaches our young people about Self Respect and respect for others.

    It appears that parents are abdicating their responsibilities to schools, who are frankly not equipped for this. When did Riot Control and Restraint Techniques become part of the teacher training curriculum.

    In our local secondary schools, we have a community policing team, with an officer on site each school day, all day. One incident recently saw a youth being stabbed in school by an outside coming in, who went on to attack two other pupils until restrained by several teachers.

    These schools are both Roman Catholic with sixth forms and 11+ streams of grammar status?

    My grandchildren attend a bog standard comprehensive, with a good discipline record and where the environment is conducive to learning, yet they are regarded as inferior because of their choice of school.

    I am unsure what the answer is, but the Governments intention of fast tracking former servicemen into schools sounds very much a sound bite option. I would not take the job, and I don't know anyone else who would either.

    I think that you were brave to have stayed as long as you did and had the wisdom to say no to a permanent contract.