“‘Ere, sir, you still licensed then?” says a gruff pupil called Ralph. We’re at the Foxton’s Academy of Excellence. We’re in year 2017. I’m 139 and still at the chalkface. I tried retiring, but the pension’s been binned forever. We’ve got a Lib-Lab Coalition. It is infinitesimally better than the last lot. The Minister of Education, Sir Tristram Hunt, is not. He has defied all odds and out-goved the Gove. His Big Idea is something called The Licence, a rather gruelling, weekly inquisition by his henchmen.
“You’re hardly fit for purpose!” opines a pupil called Felicity. She has a cold caller’s voice. Her chum Fiona, who will be a dental hygienist, concurs with folded arms.
They’ve both just given me nought out of five on Rateyourteacher.com – grassed me up to the LB (the Licence Brigade) who tattoo your knuckles like the Bouncers at the schoolgates.
I usually get a rather indelible F. I thought I’d passed enough tests to be a teacher. A degree, a PGCE and probation with, hem hem, distinction, and blizzards of Ofsteds and Performance Ratings, and even, after three failures, the Corporate Dress Code.
I’m even on nodding terms with the National Curriculum. My pedagogy, once antediluvian, has returned with a vengeance and is now deemed modish. I’ve never quite got on top of the virtual classroom, but am pretty fluent in the fashionable educational gibberish.
Still, the horrid Felicity may be correct. I’m in deep trouble with Mr Tristram’s MOT. My body language is shot. Sclerotic even. The blood pressure’s up, the IQ down, and the macular degeneration rather dims things. I sometimes wander into the wrong classes and deliver the wrong lessons and neither of us really notice.
And I’m still pretty rubbish with disenfranchised 8th years of a wet Friday afternoon. I must up my game. I must, above all, appear “passionate”. It is this week’s key virtue.
“If you’re not passionate,” says Sir Tristram, “you shouldn’t be in this profession.”
Yikes! Well, I used to be – about teaching literacy and Shakespeare and giving the voiceless a voice to tell their stories, to acquire enough skills to tangle with the tough world and not merely the incurious ones to acquiesce to it. Well, no more. Any passion’s rather spent...
Knock! Knock! The gruff Ralph perks up and resembles an owl. Ditto Fiona and Felicity. Here they come, the LB mob, Sir Tristram and Ms Dazzle, looking like that bleedin’ Virgin Airlines advert.
Oh well, time to get conspicuously passionate about, module 98, lesson 499, the savagely irrelevant novels of Sir Walter Scott and have a terrifically trenchant Starter – or a serious cardiac arrest...