Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Keith: every school has one

Are my eyes deceiving me? Is that Keith? Jesus! It is! He's squirting the kids with a pump action water pistol. Oh shit! They're being drenched. It's meant to be the beginning of today's assembly, for Heaven's sake. What is he playing at?

I rush over and, after becoming the victim of collateral water damage - martyred by the trigger happy hand of a corpulent dullard - I, wiping my sodden shirt, usher Keith into the corridor before confiscating his pistol. Now before you begin decrying the shocking Jeremy Kyle-esque behaviour of our kids and lament the Downton Abbey-, Mr Selfridge-esque, bygone age of chivalric etiquette and honour, I must confess: Keith is a member of staff - a grey-haired design and technology teacher afflicted by a blancmange-like corporeal spread that, let's face it, and I'm talking from experience, oft accompanies the onset of middle age. His trousers are pulled high enough to cradle his considerable, sausage-like moobs and his bright red braces, red tie and stripy shirt cruelly combine to foster the impression of a giant weeble. He really is a slightly absurd looking figure. And as you can probably infer, his tendency to engage in erratic behaviour doesn't really help his image much, either.

Last summer he was suspended for chasing onto the playing fields and wrestling to the ground a Year 10 pupil. According to several witnesses, Keith, covered in mud and laughing hysterically, then proceeded to embrace - and muddy - passersby as they innocently ambled towards the science laboratories. Shocking, ah? Other than that, though, apparently he's a consummate professional. 

Apart from the fact that he falsifies results, too. Shortly after his return to work I was asked to mentor him - a daunting task, I'm sure you'd agree. In this supervisory capacity, I soon discovered that the work ostensibly completed by his pupils had not been completed at all. In other words, there was no evidence to support the claims being made in his reports.

Even more worrying, though, was the revelation that he'd been rumbled by Edexcel's Standards Verifier. (A Standards Verifier checks the accuracy of a teacher's assessment grades. If Keith says little Joe passed, he must be able to prove it to the SV. If he can't after several attempts, then, at the end of the academic year, little Joe won't receive his certificate thus his qualification. In the most severe cases, albeit very unlikely, the exam board could close down the centre and stop the school running its qualifications - after, of course, refusing to certificate every one of its BTEC pupils.) And he wasn't rumbled once, but twice. He failed to justify his grades on two separate occasions, which led, inevitably, to an investigation. 

Thanks to Keith, the school was in the spotlight, and it wasn't a good one to be standing in. The Edexcel appointed regional representative came in and - after several hours of enduring Keith's shameless attempts to butter her up with lukewarm tea and arid, inedible bricks of sawdust masquerading as confectionery, not to mention forensically examining class files, pupil work and spreadsheets - eventually discovered that her hunch was correct: Keith had been falsifying results throughout the year. Indeed, he had no evidence to support his outlandish claims that ninety-odd per cent of his pupils were working at distinction level. She downgraded every pupil and insisted on an internal review of our vocational systems and provision. 

Thankfully we passed. Keith was a lone wolf, according to the reviewer, a renegade acting according to his own lack of conscience rather than a bit player in a rotten system. Having taught BTECs and having also, on occasion, and under intense pressure, been tempted to falsify the odd result myself, I'm not so sure. But surely it's a question of extent. Keith arrogantly ignored the SVs advice and imagined he could sweet talk his way out of trouble using the incalculable allure of Baldrick's tea- and cake-making handbook. Unsurprisingly he failed. 

And now, here I am, seven months later, faced with another crisis manufactured by this...person. This time, moreover, and to make matters worse, I'm soaking wet and unconscionably pissed off. For how much longer must we put up with this nincompoop?

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