The lines are going well, thank you, on Planet Tallis and must be visible from space. Youthful exuberance in the line-ups is being suppressed and the crocodiles meander across the swamp largely elegantly and without snapping at the legs of others. Some old folks are relatively enthusiastic about them and the sheer number of steps being taken has generated mild competition.
One way to get the steps up is to teach year 9 who are banished to the MUGA, a 3-minute walk away. I got down there on Tuesday to encourage the lines when a youth called me into a goalmouth. ‘Look miss, spider’s eggs’. These were undoubtedly large seeds from a nearby shrub so I asked him to think about the size of the spider who laid them. Unconvinced, he threw me a challenge: ‘You stand on them then, I wouldn’t’.
Tuesday had sadly started with a terrible accident close by, the aftermath of which several hundred children saw. I was at the front gate, interrogating. A Year 8 assured me that it was all right because ‘there are literally millions of police cars and all the helicopters’. A word to both maths and English required, perhaps.
Conkers also hove into view, in some cases at a considerable velocity. We have a couple of what I refuse to call conker trees as the Horse and its Chestnut are worthy of the name. Piling children up in very particular corners of the site have focused our minds. Children have probably always behaved foolishly with conkers, but now it’s in plain sight and annoying everyone. This too will pass.
Wednesday brought a furniture tussle in the outer office here. Removers counselled us to be sure we really wanted their services. ‘There’s a shortage of cupboards. They’re like gold dust’. Cupboards? The day declined further with a reasonable complaint from a local resident about children fly tipping in her bins. Good that they were looking for a bin, actually, but annoying nonetheless when the resident was fined for poor bin habits. We grovelled. Our own training session crowned a perfect day with muffling and blurrs as we enthusiastically but imperfectly broadcast building to building.
Thursday Governors came to look at the lines (and other procedures, obviously). They declared themselves satisfied. Spilt sanitiser was categorised as a hazard – very slippy, don’t try it at home.
By this time I felt as though I was about to breathe my last. What with the cycling and the zooms, the lines and the walks, reading the matchless prose of the daily DfE, agonising over what the government like to call ‘systems of controls’ and remembering my face mask I’d seriously lost my mojo. I’m experimenting with personal decaffeination at precisely the moment I need it most and I was aged mutton rather than spring lamb as I trudged down to pick up my Year 7 class from a year group disgracing themselves with an insufficiently serious approach to lining.
When I was a deckhand in the schools of the 80s and 90s I scoffed and chortled when ranking officers said that they found teaching a tonic, a break from the other business. Not 9F3 on a Tuesday afternoon, mateys, I thought. But I got just that tonic on Thursday from two groups of sweaty and dishevelled eleven-year olds. There’s just something about the Q and A, the back and forth, the uncovering of knowledge that reduced my age by about 200 years in the course of an afternoon. Having spent six months not really being able to answer any question with any certainty I was surfing a wave at the black of Block 3: ask me another – I know this stuff.
And so I look out of the window and see a retro sweet cart and perhaps the skeleton of a pigeon cree being ferried across the yard by fine specimens of Block 2. I’ve no idea what that’s about but I don’t mind. Board marker in one hand and seating plan in the other, I’ve remembered what kept me going with 9F3, and its wonderful.
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