I thought I'd shaken off the shackles of my old school, but having been in this week to see the exam results, I feel wound up again by some of my (ex) colleagues. Like every workplace, schools have a number of people working there who really shouldn't be, and like the public sector in general, it's quite difficult to get rid of incompetent members of staff. And then there are staff who should be booted right out of the door but for some reason Management thinks they are valuable assets to the school who should be rewarded and retained with promotions.
One of these disgraces is Mr A. When you first meet him, you will probably recognise his type: one of the lads, seemingly popular with the kids, likes a joke and a laugh and has many of the LSAs swooning. Add into the mix that he teaches a shortage subject and filled a vacancy that had been wide open for a long time, and you can see why he looks like an attractive proposition.
But then you dig deeper. Why do the kids love him so much? Well, he takes lunchtime sports training every now and again, and he is the king of practical jokes. Oh yes, he's always having a laugh and a joke with the kids. But then you start to hear complaints from members of your form.
"We don't learn anything from him."
"He picked up my pencil case and emptied it all over the desk, and everyone was laughing but I didn't think it was funny."
"We're always playing games but we didn't cover what we needed for the exam."
"I wanted to ask him something but he told me to go away because he was emailing his friends."
"He scribbled on my book right in front of me then told me off and said I'd done it."
"He shouted at us all for not doing the homework but he hadn't set any."
"He lost my book and then told me off for forgetting it. But he's lost it."
"We watch lots of videos. Last lesson we watched 'Die Hard'. It's really good but it had nothing to do with (the subject)."
Now some of these you would be inclined to explain away. What teacher hasn't been accused of losing a child's book? Who hasn't shown a video at the end of term? Surely these games are educational, but he's such a great teacher that the kids don't even realise they are learning? But after having given Mr A the benefit of the doubt, there comes a time when these comments start to add up into something more than the occasional slackery.
Mr A is a bully. He commands a group of laddish teachers whose behaviour deteriorates in his presence as they compete to keep up with his "jokes". At least one NQT has emulated his behaviour, seeing how popular it makes him, and has gone from being a really promising teacher to an arrogant slacker. Mr A bullies the children. Messing about with their stuff might seem like a laugh to the class, but it's the kind of thing the class bully does to intimidate others and make themselves look popular.
Mr A is also really thick. In his shortage subject, the barriers for recruitment must be lower, and whilst he knows enough (allegedly) to teach his own subject (if he could ever be bothered), his general knowledge and common sense are way below par. He can't write very well, and so his corrections and notes read like an illiterate Year 7's.
And in September Mr A's reward for all of this? - a promotion to head of year, where he can continue to bully children and charm their parents.