Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

What Keeps Me Awake at Night - It's Dangerous to Leave an Empty Suit in Charge: Opinion

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

What Keeps Me Awake at Night - It's Dangerous to Leave an Empty Suit in Charge: Opinion

Article excerpt

I teach at a seaside school and the community is a melting pot, ranging from academics to ageing hippies. Some children come to school smelling of the smoke from their parents' "recreational" activities. It's that sort of place.

The students' behaviour often reflects their parents' attitude to authority, so you have to be a strong teacher. For example, when I started at this school, some 12-year-olds taunted and threw apple cores at me. This set the tone for what to expect in the future.

The principal is a slovenly, greasy-haired character who has been resting on his laurels for a number of years. He avoids confrontation with the parents at all costs and never supports the teachers when a problem occurs. Laughably, he is a teaching principal. Each week, his class runs amok. Discipline is a foreign concept.

I had the dreaded job of teaching the recorder to his class. On one particular day as I walked in, I saw that they were busy finishing an art project that required the use of Stanley knives. …

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