Sunday, 7 November 2010


SH: Sir, did you watch loads of French TV over half-term?
Me: No. I don't have French TV at home. I watched some films though.
SH: But Sir, didn't you watch the French Big Brother?
Me: No. It's not very good.
SH: Innit tho. But, Sir, isn't it, like, the same as English Big Brother, but, like, with subtitles?

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Personal Statements

H is applying to study medicine. He's proudly presenting the latest draft of his personal statement which contains the gem:

"I look forward to exploring myself in different areas of work."

Worth pointing out, H, that if you're caught exploring yourself while working as a doctor you'll get the sack.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Ber tings happenin

Mandems in da hall cos S and H were ber fightin cos H decked S in balls n den S is like ber hench so he like picks up H and proper slaps him and den H proper switches on S and he's swinging at him but S grabs his arms like dis and den der on da floor and den Miss comes up to separate them yeh? and S knocks her over cos he's basically da same size and den he freezes coz he clocks dat Miss smacked her head on da lockers so he goes over and stops fighting and picks her up and den turns around and carries on fightin with H again n den the Principal runs ova and separates dem but she forgot her blackberry on da table and B picks it up and is like "finders keepers" but den he got told to put it back down and got in trouble even tho he didnt know it was the Principal's.

But why did H and S start fighting in the first place?

Cos it's Slap-A-Forehead Day today.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


New Year 8.

Me: "Mark, stop swinging on your chair."
MK: "I can't help it, Sir."
Me: "Have you been drinking energy drinks again?"
MK: "No!"
Me: "You know they're bad for you."
JS: "They make you lose sperm, innit Sir!"
Me: "Just focus on the work boys, get on with it."


BD:"The toy soldiers won't be marching tonight."

Hilarity ensues.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

General Ignorance

Sir, is Belgium a city?
No it's a country
How do you write it? B - E - L - J....
What about Miami?
What about it?
That's a country, right?
How are these things connected?!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Pulling himself up by his own bootstraps

JM (aged 11) received his 20th detention for lateness and truancy today. Mitigating circumstances include the fact that he sets his own alarm, washes his own clothes, makes his own breakfast and brings himself into school...himself. The fact he turns up should be rewarded, not greeted with a detention!

LX (aged 11) received his umpteenth detention for lateness, likewise. Unfortunately, it turns out he can't tell the time. His mother has pledged to teach him. I'm thinking: if your eleven year old son doesn't tell the time yet, what are the odds you'll teach him now?

Maybe I'm a pessimist.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Parenting Fail

Last term, on non-uniform day, 11 year old EC came in to school with a baggy t-shirt with the following slogan proudly emblazoned upon it:

"I Eat Pussy Like A Fat Kid Eats Cake"

At what point did mummy or daddy think that was appropriate?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Back to School

The last 7 weeks of the school year began today after a blissfully sunny half term.

BH decided that French was not what he wanted on his first day back in school. When I gave him a glue stick he started smearing it all over his friend's desk when his friend was allowed out to go to the toilet.

When I pointed out to BH that he should probably not be doing that, he shouted, "suck it, man, suck off!"

While I was trying to work out what that meant by this, he managed to storm out and leave the classroom in a huff. I was pleased that the rest of the class managed to carry on working without too much disruption.

Back to school, eh? Two detentions doled out already (the second to fat 11 year old ES who rocked up to school eating a pasta salad - how cosmopolitan! - at 10am and didn't know which lesson to go to).

Time for some sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


Exam season is upon us and revision is in full swing.

JK is laying down some good old cusses against AJ for being fat and ugly.

"Ha! Mandem say AJ looks like Caliban!"
"Hahahaha haaaarsh!!! AJ, JK just called you Caliban! Dat is siiick!"

Nuff respec' to the English Department.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The inanities of the everyday

Abdi is helping Hamid. (Names changed. As always.) They are producing projects on the theme of Politics The two of them are trying to get 'elected' to political power by their peers and are putting together a PowerPoint spelling out why they should be chosen. The election is taking place on an imaginary island where they have found themselves stranded with their classmates.

Title of PowerPoint: "Why I'm a good leader"

Hamid: Let's put that I'm sick at hunting, yeah?
Abdi: [painstakingly starts typing] Yes bruv. And let's put that we're Afghan soldiers and Somali pirates.
Hamid: Hahahaha. Afghan soldiers UK, brrrup brrrup! What!
Abdi has finished his slow typing. The screen reads "Elect me cos I'm good at haunting".
Abdi: Let's put pictures of our weapons up.
Hamid: Put a machine gun.
Abdi: And a rocket launcher.
Abdi finds a picture of a baby holding a sub-machine gun and copies it onto his slide.
Hamid: Hahahaha that's you.
Abdi: Hahahaha eeeeazy, that's my li'l brother, allaiiii!
Hamid: Hahahaha Somali pirates UK, brrrrup brrrrup! What!
Abdi: Hahahahaha safe!

Friday, 19 March 2010


It is a well documented fact that events outside the classroom have an impact on what takes place during the lesson.

Today I received an excited text from my brother halfway through the day declaring that Arsenal had drawn Barcelona in the quarter finals of the Champions League. If a grown man gets that excited about (easily available) news, imagine the effect on immature little children!

"Sir! Sir! Sir!"
"Do your translation. Sit down."
"No, Sir, you don't understand! Sir, Arsenal are gonna get MERKED!!! Sir, you don't understand dey're gonna get DUN!!! Messi is gonna KILL dem, Sir."

Even one of my sixth formers was struggling to concentrate.

"Are you done with those exercises then? Why are you swinging back staring out of the window?"
"Sorry, Sir, it's just that I'm baffed."
"Yeah, man. I'm baffed that Arsenal are gonna get merked!"

Sunday, 14 March 2010


25 Year 7s went missing on Thursday. They were found locked into the Dance Studio, being taken through their paces by LM, a feckless Year 10 girl, and AR, a camp Year 9 ruffian. LM, you see, had volunteered to run a dance club as part of her Youth Philanthropy Initiative project. This was cautiously supported by the staff as LM has an appalling record of truancy and rudeness and was "severely disengaged from the curriculum". Perhaps this was her chance to succeed at something and benefit from some praise (or "positive reinforcement", as the behaviour managers term it). However, LM took matters too far when she convinced the 11 year-olds that attending her dance studio session was more important than going to lessons and, what's more, had been approved by the teachers. It was slightly embarrassing for the school not to know where 25 youngsters were, and all the more so given the encouragement that LM had received to go ahead with her volunteering project. It is now doubtful whether she will be allowed to continue with her career as a dance coach.

Friday, 5 March 2010


Equipment for Science Exam

1) One can of Coke. ("I need a buzz for my exam!")
2) One can of Red Bull. ("I need energy for my brain!")
3) One Boost chocolate bar. ("I need breakfast!")
4) One pencil [blunt]. ("Do you reckon I need a pencil, Sir? I don't have a pen so this'll do, right?")
5) One scientific calculator ("Heh heh, I'm so dumb, I should have brought this to my Maths exam but I forgot. Do you reckon I'll need it in the Science one?")


  • Ensure that any preparations are left until the last minute.
  • Chase around the school asking every teacher for a pen. Make sure you do this in groups of 5 or 6 as this will definitely [not] increase your chances of finding one.
  • Bunk registration in the morning due to "stress".
  • Start your revision on the morning of the examination.
  • Have a break from revision to buy fizzy drinks.
  • Act surprised and angry when told [or, reminded!] that the examination is in the morning and not the afternoon.
  • Do not faint in the exam.
  • Refuse to do any other work that day due to "stress".
  • Ask when the re-sit dates are and diarize them.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Objectives: This week, I have been mostly learning French.

Every lesson must have an objective. This is phrased in a variety of jargons:

WALTs (We Are Learning To), LOBs (Learning Objectives), Objectifs (in French).

They break down into outcomes, usually following the form: All, Most, Some. Thus, for example, All students will be able to identify 8 holiday activities, Most students will be able to say which holiday activity they like and Some students will be able to give a reason why they like them.

It gives a lesson focus and purpose, but can be taken too far. According to the latest OFSTED criteria, all students should be aware of what their objectives are that lesson and should be able to rattle off its aims and outcomes when asked by an inspector (at any given point in the said lesson). As a fellow teacher pointed out to me today, the mechanical and contrived way in which we are now encouraged to train the students to parrot their objective is not dissimilar to the famous Fast Show sketch, Jesse's Diets:

Sunday, 14 February 2010

No One Likes Us - We Don't Care!

My dear Year 8 football team let themselves down the other day. Losing by a handful of goals in the semi-final of a cup competition, they fouled, complained, swore and gave up playing. My co-coach and I are racking our heads for an explanation: where did the eager, happy and undoubtedly talented footballers of last year disappear to, and why are they replaced by this ragtag bunch of prima donnas - refusing to play in the position they've been asked, moaning at each other and losing the game through serious ill-discipline.

In general, I don't write about football analytically (leaving that to other cynics), but I've often wondered at how ridiculously early children in the UK are forced to play within a rigid tactical structure (traditionally 4-4-2). Even primary school teams with some kids as young as 9 or 10 will categorise certain players as "a defender" or "a centre forward" with little regard to a) their future physical development, b) the improvement of certain key technical features to their game, such as a first touch or passing awareness, or c) the pressure that comes with playing tactical 11-a-side instead of playing football for the fun of it. An 11 year old player then becomes attached to their position (with some positions obviously more tinged with glory than others - a centre forward tends to be more cocky than the left back) and it is difficult to switch his or her mentality when playing them in another position (or 'out of position' as they now see it!).

With this in mind, the behaviour of certain ring leaders of last week's Players' Revolt becomes clear. Two are at professional or semi-professional clubs already and desperate to make it as pros. Their mothers and fathers foster their ambitions and regularly turn up for games. Sometimes their presence results in a stream of criticism, though usually it is encouraging. But the parental pressure, coupled with the Sunday league 11-a-side coaching, results in our kids now feeling that they know better than me and my co-coach.

When our central midfielder decided that he was now a centre forward, the problems began. When our centre forward refused to move to the wing the problems deepened and when our winger was fouled late on in the second half, he stood up and punched the opposition player in the face.

At times like these Co-coach and I have to remind ourselves that although we might be watching the future Wayne Rooney or Steven Gerrard, we are Educators first and Football Fans second. It was with a heavy heart, therefore, that we had to stop the game and instead of congratulating little J our winger for a superb upper-cut, send him off the pitch and suspend him from school for a day.


On an unrelated note - further to my post on Wednesday 27th January, I have reconsidered about making the blog exclusive. I was worried about incriminating myself (paranoia, pure and simple), but have decided to keep it public. Thank you to those who emailed me.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ernst Gräfenberg

Year 9 class.

A (girl): What's a G-spot?!
MM (boy): Hurrrgh hurrrgh.
A: Shuttup - what is it? Stop talking about it!
J (girl): It's a thing girls have. It's here. (pointing at the middle of her stomach).
A: What does it do?
J: Not much, I dunno.
D (boy): It's cos girls don't have a...
Me: Excuse me! Do we have to discuss this now? Get back to your work.
A: But SIIIIR! I don't know what a G-spot is....
Me: Stop shouting out 'G-spot'!
A: But Sir! Just tell me! The boys keep talking about it and I don't know what it is! (chanting) G-spot! G-spot! G-sp--
Me: Sit back down and be quiet. I don't want to have to call home and repeat what you've been shouting about in my class down the phone to whoever's at home!
A: It's fine, Sir, my mum doesn't know what her G-spot is either!

How do I even get into these situations! I'm trying to avoid the topic and it leads to this!

Compound Nouns

I was trying to teach Year 7 about compound nouns. In French you can't make compound nouns in the same way as it is possible in English. Cheesecake becomes Gâteau au fromage, for example. Other compound nouns are formed with a partitive 'de' like pomme de terre for 'earthapple', or potato.

Me: So for example, you might stick two words together in English to make a new one. Hourglass, for instance. Or steamboat or Hogwarts or laptop. Can anyone think of any other compound nouns in English?
MM: Dickhead?
DJ: Bumhole!
KB: Dumbarse!

Well at least they understood the grammatical principle.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


If you want to carry on receiving the Blog then send your email address to

100 places only. First come, first served.

NAT will be going exclusive from next week....for a little while at least.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

"Don't blame yourself, Sir"

4 months to go until the GCSEs. A crucial Parents' Evening. Most of the parents and carers are on form: shouting at their lazy children in front of me in Igbo, Twi, Yoroba, Arabic and Urdu. Threatening to cut off X-Box rights, access to the internet or, and I suspect (though admittedly my Yoroba lets me down at this point) promising a good thrashing if their attitude does not improve.

Up comes CM with her mother. CM, the worst and rudest student in my experience of the school. Who shouts back at me in class, refuses to pick up a pen, encourages other students to misbehave to annoy me and is a fully fledged Lady Chav. The mother, as it soon becomes clear, is painfully afraid of her own daughter.

I extend a welcoming hand, and then hear the most crushing opening gambit from a parent that I could have never even dreamt up:

"Hi, I thought we'd come to hear the bad report from you. I just want to take this opportunity to say that I think we all know that CM will get a U in French and I don't want you to feel responsible or to blame yourself. I've come to apologise and just to say that really."

And this from a parent! What hope is there for the kid if their own mother doesn't think it's worth her daughter studying for her GCSEs?! CM followed up with a prepared comment of her own:
"You hate me and I hate you. So I wouldn't even bother, Sir".
I was stupefied and did nothing for a moment. I struggled for the words to explain to CM that she had grossly overestimated how much her bad behaviour got to me and that far from hating her, and quite in contrast to the pre-emptive forgiveness her mother was offering me, I felt responsible for her French mark and just wanted to help her complete a GCSE.

I'll see if it isn't too late for her to change subject.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Elephant In The Room?

Nothing new to report recently since the snow has disrupted the week so much. Bullish statements from the Senior Management Team early in the week to the effect that the school will weather the storm and remain open whatever the conditions were quickly forgotten: when there are more teachers than students in a school of over a thousand kids there's no point in keeping the place open. So apart from being ticked off by the Principal for throwing snowballs at the few students that did turn up, I have no real news.

It's amazing, though, how little work one accomplishes when not under the cosh.

Here, then, is an anecdote that's been doing the rounds at the school for a while.

The Head of Year 9, Mr S, is a bullish, charismatic, impulsive and unpredictable P.E. teacher who, while his heart is undoubtedly in the right place, is known for speaking without thinking, especially in public. His assemblies are often unintentionally hilarious.

He nearly always picks an entrance song for the students to listen to as they come in and a few years back he asked another teacher to burn him a CD with a song on it. This other teacher duly obliged, but as a joke added another song on the end - Nellie the Elephant.

The students filed in in silence listening to the first track. When nearly all of them were in, Nellie the Elephant came on. Mr S saw this as an opportunity to improvise.

(This isn't word for word. But it could have been.)

Mr S: Calm down, calm down. I know this is Nellie the Elephant, but what can we learn from it? What does this song teach us? I'll tell you what...dreams. It teaches us about dreams. And resilience. It's a song about resilience. Nellie really, really wanted to perform in the circus. It was her dream. And it wasn't easy to get in! So she tried really, really hard. She trained for it and trained for it. And, like the song says, she finally got in to the circus!

So far, so cheesy. Except for one thing:

Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk
And said goodbye to the circus
Off she went with a trumpety-trump
Trump, trump, trump
Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk
And trundled back to the jungle
Off she went with a trumpety-trump
Trump, trump, trump.