Diary Of A Supply Teacher: 'We are advised to tread carefully and avoid trouble'

The morning phone call is late, so I miss most of the head's mid-week briefing in the staffroom. Joining the other latecomers in the doorway, I catch most of the final item. Simon, in year 10, has been behaving unacceptably and is now on a final warning. However, he feels he is being victimised and that staff are against him. We are advised to tread carefully, avoid confrontation and report any problems directly to the head. I have never knowingly come across Simon, and in any case regard treading carefully and avoiding confrontation as part of the job description.

First period is PE in the library. The task is to research a sport online, and the group settles down happily, mostly on the Manchester United website. I'm not sure that this has much value, but the librarian is satisfied, so I'm not about to complain. Only one lad is otherwise occupied, and he is investigating designer sportswear; I venture to suggest he should direct his attention elsewhere. As he demurs, I realise that this is the notorious Simon, and do not press the point. We discuss it amicably at intervals, as the librarian is threatening to turn off his computer, but he does as he pleases and causes no obvious disruption.

At the end of the lesson, I have to fill in his report card. "Worked well, not necessarily on the topic required..." He glances at it, grunts, and shambles off after the rest. Things could have been a lot worse.

Last period is RE, and so far the day is going smoothly. The department head looks in. "Everything OK?" he asks.

"Fine," I reply, as books are handed out and we contemplate parables.

In the confusion of the first few moments, I fail to realise that Simon is with me yet again. We read a couple of parables, and a few of the group settle to their written work, but Simon is not interested, and his mates are busily attempting to wind him up. I do not fulfil my declared intention of helping anyone who is trying to work, and spend the period in an ongoing discussion as to the pros and cons of doing something even if one can't immediately see the point of it.

Ten minutes from the end, I suggest that I have to fill in his report card, and if he could bring himself to do some work, I should be able to write something positive about him.

"Sorry miss, don't see the point," he responds, demonstrating that whatever he lacks it isn't a quick wit. As the lesson draws to a close, I write: "Civil but uncooperative. Not helped by his friends," and hope this will do. The bell goes.

I hand the report to him, and he studies it briefly. "Fair enough," he says, and shakes me by the hand.

On my way out, I pass Simon with the head, contemplating his report card. I pause beside them. "It did seem hard on Simon that he had a supply teacher for two periods on a day which was obviously going to be difficult for him," I suggest.

"I think Simon should be mature enough to cope with that, don't you?"

"Of course," I agree, though actually I thought that the whole tenor of the morning's briefing had suggested the opposite.

I hope I'd managed to make him feel a bit less victimised.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power