Sunday 4 December 2016

Diary of a schoolteacher: A cure for snowy days -- or the perfect recipe for a gang war?

E Grade

Published 10/11/2010 | 05:00

I love it when smartass authorities who think they know it all come up with what they think is a simple and common-sense solution to a pesky problem, and then it turns out that even a PE teacher can pick it apart.

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Good old Sheffield City Council in England is planning forward this winter by issuing a diktat that on snowy days when transport is difficult and they're having trouble getting to work, all teachers must walk to whatever school is nearest to them and do a day's work there.

'Any school', that's right, as long as it's reachable on foot.

At first glance, the PE teacher might seem that this seems a good idea, and grunt to himself that maybe we in Ireland should deal with that pesky white stuff the same way -- until he spends about 10 seconds thinking about how that might pan out in reality.

For a start, due to a long-standing misapprehension that we are some kind of beacons of freedom compared to our continental cousins, the UK and Ireland don't require their citizens by law to carry ID cards.

So imagine the situation next January when the local pervert wakes up, looks out the window and sees the snow piling up at the gates of the school across the road.

That's his day out in Sheffield sorted, then. Not a funny prospect, I know.

Snow is falling, and this means that the school around the corner ends up with a highly random mix of staff, and thanks to the fact that most teachers have more sense than to live near their place of work (because they don't like being followed home or waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of their pupils shouting their name and worse things) there might not be any teachers there at all.

What you end up with then is a school being staffed entirely by canteen staff, cleaners and caretakers. Actually, that would be quite good for the kids as those people are different to teachers -- they can actually do useful stuff and don't for a moment put up with the sort of hostile behaviour that we take for granted.

Other exciting outcomes are possible if we extend the same diktat to pupils -- that they too are required to make their way on foot to the nearest school if their usual one is unreachable.

In our place, all you would need is someone like our very own Dean O'Thugarty to turn up with his usual crew of apprentice hoodlums and then for his opposite number and his menagerie from Saint Anto's over on the other side of town to walk in and we'd get to referee a real gang war! I'd be there just to get the video footage for YouTube!

Not surprisingly, teachers in Sheffield have their doubts about Sheffield Snowday. Would any kids turn up?

We in Ireland are more cautious and don't like change. Far less likely to go 'the full monty'!

Irish Independent

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