Friday, July 22, 2011

Parents - and teachers - face end-of-term hell

You can always tell when it's the end of the school year.

In clothes shops, booksellers and stationers all over town, the posters start going up: "Back To School!"

Perhaps this is supposed to be some sort of ray of hope for parents already depressed at the prospect of keeping bored youngsters and stroppy teenagers from tearing each other's throats out for the next six weeks.

Because as we parents know, summer isn't the light at the end of the tunnel. It's the headlights of a speeding express train, and it's coming this way. Fast.

Of course, during those last few days of the summer term, schools still have to keep pupils under control and fully engaged in the learning process.

The provisions of the National Curriculum must be adhered to right up to the final ring of the school bell, or that nice Mr Gove will be knocking on the door wanting to know why.

So Religious Studies teachers reach for their trusty DVD of Monty Python's Life of Brian.

History lessons are made even more relevant with showings of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Philosophy teachers while away those last few hours with Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

And biology teachers cross their fingers and hope they can get away with Mega Python vs Gatoroid on the somewhat flimsy basis that the film is a serious investigation of climate-related disruption to the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades.

PE teachers have another ploy: sports days. During which it inevitably rains, forcing a re-run of that old standby Marathon Man.

All right, it doesn't have Pythons in it. But it does contain those extended scenes of torture without which no PE lesson would be complete.

Primary school teachers have it a little bit easier ("No they don't," says Mrs D), and in fact on the last day of term they even get presents and cards.

"Deer Miz Hunnypott," reads one treasured example. "Fank u four beeing my teechur. i wil miss u wen i go to big school. Luv from Kyle."

Perhaps Kyle would have been even more grateful if Miss Honeypot had taught him how to spell. Big school may present something of a steep learning curve to the poor wee mite.

As an experienced toiler at the chalkface, our very own Mrs D has been there and done that (although she's actually pretty good at teaching spelling, before you get any ideas to the contrary).

And the one thing she finds odd, not to say annoying, about the end of term gift-fest is the cruel disparity between the presents given to male and female teachers.

Miss usually gets flowers, or chocolates, or dainty pieces of tableware.

Sir usually gets booze.

Now don't think for a minute that gifts of any kind aren't welcome. But whether your child's teacher is male or female, please remember when you're out buying presents for them: it's the end of term, and everyone – not least the teachers – needs a very stiff drink.

  • All names have been changed to protect the innocent (Kyle) and the overworked (Miss Honeypot).

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