Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Probation for a Lifer

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Probation for a Lifer

Article excerpt

What goes around, comes around. A stupid expression at the best of times, but in the course of a long teaching life, there are occasions when you feel like you've walked around the block and met yourself coming the other way.

I have worked for my current college in one way or another for almost 30 years, so it was a surprise when my line manager casually dropped into the conversation that she wanted to talk to me about my probation. Discretion forbids me from recounting our actual exchange, but let's imagine it went something like this:

"Glynis, about this probation thing. You might not have noticed, but I've been around the place for quite some time now."

"No, you haven't. You've been here for two weeks."

"Technically yes, that's true. But only because I left my tenured job to return straight away as an hourly-paid bod."

"There you are, then. As a part-timer, you've only just started. That's how human resources sees it. We need to put you on probation to find out if you're any good."

"But what about the last 30..."

"No buts. Human resources doesn't deal in buts. So let's get on and talk about your training needs."

"Training? Ah, you mean teaching old dogs to do new tricks. Sit, lie down, jump through hoops - that sort of thing?"

"You know what I mean, Stephen. Equality, diversity, every student matters. No, sorry, forget that last one, it's been replaced with maintaining standards."

"You mean every student doesn't matter any more?"

"I mean that if we don't get our pass rates up, they'll close all our bloody courses. …

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