Those that can’t…

Knowing that at least two of my readers are teachers, I have to tread carefully here so as not to cause offence. I’m sure that they at least are a credit to their profession, but it has to be said that the staff at my son’s school are completely and mind-bogglingly fucking useless.

In blog as in life, I’m not one to revert to industrial language, preferring to keep it in reserve for its shock value, so you can guess that I am less than happy with this particular branch of the teaching fraternity and sorority.

I won’t go into the catalogue of reasons for our lack of confidence in his school, just the latest example of their uselessness — organising Master P’s work experience placement.

Earlier this year we were told that we could either let the school choose a placement for him or we could arrange a self-placement ourselves. Now I’m sure we’re very grateful to all those local businesses that go out of their way to give the kids a taste of work, but mooching about an old folks’ home or stacking shelves in a warehouse isn’t the height of his ambition.

unsurprisingly we went for the latter option. My son is a bright lad and really fancies a career as a research scientist (no money in that son) but it is something we were happy to encourage, so we fixed up a placement in the research labs at Manchester University.

Of course, nothing is ever simple in these risk-averse days. There are all sorts of forms to fill in, health and safety, police checks etc, and we honestly thought we had jumped through all the required hoops when on a Wednesday afternoon in April he came home with a letter from school saying that as not all the forms had been completed he would have to go on one of their placements.

Our fault, I suppose not being sufficiently bureaucratic minded. I rang the school and explained what we had arranged and that we really wanted him to take up the opportunity only to be told that all the completed forms had to be in by the close of play that Friday. 48 sodding hours!

I won’t go into the detail but after much frantic to-ing and fro-ing the very helpful and quaintly named Public Engagement Officer at the university emailed me to say she’d completed the forms and they were in the post to the school on Friday evening. I rang the school and they said Monday morning was okay.

We took silence to mean that everything was sorted which was probably a mistake based on past experience. Then yesterday Master P arrives home with a note telling us that he has been placed with a Methodist children’s playgroup FFS!

I was on the phone again this morning. “Oh, you must have read my mind Mr Parrot. I was just about to ring you,” said the organiser who had obviously had an ‘Ohmigod!’ moment after speaking to my son who reminded her of what the arrangement should have been.

She claimed not to have received the forms, a claim I’m not inclined to believe on recent form. ‘”But I’m sure it will be fine. If you let me have the university contact details, I can send the forms again and we can get it sorted out.”

But if it’s ‘fine’ now in July, how come she had me running round like Jack Bauer with a doubly generous 48 hours to save the world in April? And having gone to all that trouble, why no note or phone call to say the forms hadn’t arrived? As I said at the start, mind-bogglingly fucking useless.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Jennyta 12th July 2006

    You won’t get an argument out of me, SP – them’s secondary teachers. Now us hard working, dedicated, fnatastic primary teachers – different matter entirely! 😉

  • Yorkshire Pudding 13th July 2006

    The teacher concerned may have been administering 200 work experience placements in addition to her normal teaching timetable. There’s not just Master P in the school – which is an attitude we often come across – parents who are so mind bogglingly f***ing thick that they can’t see the bigger picture. Given your vitriolic attack on the noble teaching profession you will be extremely lucky if I ever deign to visit your Mancunian blog again. Whoever said “Those who can do, those who can’t teach” was a complete twat who probably wouldn’t have survived ten minutes in the hurly burly pressure of an urban secondary school. So no parrot seed for you this evening!

  • Shooting Parrots 13th July 2006

    Thanks Jenny. Never, ever had a problem with primary school teachers with either of our two kids. In fact, we’ve one of them to thank for Miss P’s love of music so that she can play clarinet and piano.

    But while we do have issues with our son’s form teacher, YP, I confess that the provocative ‘Those who can’t…’ heading was more a sign of my frustration rather than a view I hold.

    Putting teaching issues aside, it was one of the backroom staff I dealt with who told me that she had well over 300 placements to deal with and I have every sympathy for her and her task.

    But we had conversations. She knew what I was trying to do. She knew to expect completed forms that Monday and yet there was no system in place to recognise that something had gone awry.

    For better or worse, we are all ‘customers’ and our expectations of public service are higher (I should know) and the reality today is to ‘adapt or be privatised.’

  • J.J 18th July 2006

    I have to say I was horrified when I saw the ‘approved’ list of placements for my son’s year. There was nothing remotely stimulating. Having said that, the teachers did then bend over backwards to help me get something more interesting for him…but as I have mentioned at my place, having seen some feedback from where he ended up, whether THAT was worthwhile or not I’m not entirely sure;-)


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