I have been searching for a piece I wrote some time ago about my own secondary school education to post here. I recall writing this about my secondary modern – just a damn good ordinary institution on a council estate in Suffolk – a model from the late 60s to contrast with the target setting and management driven culture model of schools today [or even back then when I wrote it – that culture has been here for some time now!]. However, I can’t find it.
In searching today, but also when I habitually return to such past writing, I come across articles, documents and HOD minutes I have written over the years whilst still in the job. For some reason, I have this masochistic urge to revisit these – they aren’t all dark, but so much of what I had to write was reactive, and usually reacting despairingly, and almost always angrily, to some nonsense from within or outside the school.
I came across the following which was the ending to a memo I was writing to my wonderful team about an impending review from someone in our local authority, someone with whom I had little respect or regard and who lived up to those feelings. As was my wont, I framed the memo by, at the beginning, referring to my recent reading of some excellent Raymond Chandler-esque narratives my year 12 students had written for publishing within the school, and commenting on how their writing expertise was a clear reflection of the superb teaching from the entire English team as those students had worked through the school to year 12. I ended with this:
I thought long and hard about the impending review. I’d worked with shysters before and this had all the hallmarks of some sham run by a gang of people in high places with low morals. It could rain all day on this parade but nothing could wash the stench of an unnecessary intrusion away. You can’t play chess with a dog that just wants to gnaw at a bone, I thought. You could kick its teeth out and even chain it somewhere dark and dirty but dogs were a dime a dozen in these kinds of streets. There were always more to hound you. I’ve been doing this job for years and I’ve managed to surround myself with a few good people who know the difference between a naked dame and a girl without any clothes. I didn’t want no one telling me which one I could sleep with. Neither did they. I took another drink and wondered how many more I’d need before a new day promised me something it would take too long to deliver.