Teacher spy

Teacher spy – public enemy or public benefactor?  Hidden cameras – every supply teacher should be given one.

The Times
April 26th 2007

How would you react if your child came home and said that a lesson had been wasted by a persistent 14-year-old who had absented himself from his own lessons and intruded into your child’s classroom? Let’s say a supply teacher was in charge and that when this boy had snatched up a handful of pupil reports and refused to hand them back, the teacher had grabbed his wrist and retrieved the papers.

Thank goodness for that: order restored, you’d think. But then the deputy head arrived, armed with a sheaf of paper. Without any acknowledgement of my presence – for I was that supply teacher – she gave each of the pupils a sheet and asked them to write independent accounts of what had happened. At the mention of my having touched the boy there was a gasp of mock horror from the class, a piece of tomfoolery that she failed to challenge. She would, she said, see me later.

I pointed out that any adult who tolerated such behaviour condoned it. She said that she would have to bring the matter to the attention of the supply-teaching agency. I told the agency that were I sent again to that school I would take a box of matches with me and save the world a deal of trouble: it was a school which I had known while head of a neighbouring school.

Supply teachers are visitors entitled to respect and support so that they can work effectively. Often they don’t get that, as the case of Angela Mason shows. She is arraigned before the General Teaching Council accused of unacceptable professional conduct. Her crime was covertly filming the defiant and destructive chaos she saw in 18 schools, which was then broadcast on television.

Two important questions need to be asked over and over again until there are straight answers. First, what has happened to the so-called teaching profession when a government poodle, the General Teaching Council, is sitting in judgment on someone who is revealing crucial information about what happens in schools and the misbehaviour of pupils?

Far more importantly, where on earth is the moral justification for compelling attendance at state schools when learning is impossible? The first question that any parent should ask a head teacher is, can you assure me that my child will not be left unsupervised with children who steal, bully, lie, cheat or seek ways to frustrate teaching and learning? Mrs Mason brought to our attention the ease with which disaffected pupils can now so easily disrupt schools.

Like prisons, schools are now places where the inmates are obliged to keep company with others whom they might prefer to avoid. Parents need to know about these things.

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