John Walsh: 'If bouncers stand in for teachers, what on earth will the children learn?'

Related Topics

The life of a supply teacher in the Armageddon of the classroom was never a bed of roses. Called in as a pale substitute for a respected teacher who'd gone off to have a baby, had fallen ill or been sent on some "refresher course," stand-in teachers were like koalas introduced to a bear-baiting pit.

They were seldom drawn from the top drawer of the teaching profession (had they been, they'd have been employed at Winchester or Charterhouse) and they were often weird compendia of vocal tics and behavioural mannerisms. I remember one called Mr Boggis who had wild staring eyes, theatrical hand gestures and seemed determined to elongate Russian place names into "Petrograaaard" and "Vlaaaardivostock." He was a gift to the pubescent satirists and pimply assassins of Syntax II class, and he lasted two sessions before retiring in tears to the staffroom and tendering his resignation.

I can understand, therefore, what has prompted schools in the Midlands to sign up professional bouncers, club doormen and ex-military personnel to go into the killing fields that men call state secondary schools, and become "cover supervisors" – that's cover as in "Cover me, men, rapid fire, I'm going in."

It's true. The National Union of Teachers, at its annual get-together in Cardiff, has said it's alarmed to find that many school heads now hire untrained staff from the more, ah, robust professions to take classes whose teachers have gone Awol.

A Midlands employment agency called Aspire People Ltd is urging ex-Marines, firemen, stunt men and other examples of paid muscle to consider taking jobs in schools as "hardcore cover," earning £70 a day to control the kids and "get involved in a school environment."

Does this mean the bouncers will do the actual teaching as well? Surely not. Things may not be perfect in the public sector, but I don't think we're ready to have our children taught by unqualified classroom pedagogues wearing shades and Hugo Boss suits and carrying clipboards. But if the new brand of bouncer-teachers were to be accepted in schools, what would the kids learn? About history, for instance?

Origins of the Russian Revolution.

Right. The revolution in 1917 got started because a bunch of Russian peasants wanted to get into the Winter Palace to join the nobs dancing a polka inside, right, but they weren't allowed in. They weren't on the list so no way. I'm not saying they were wrong, I'm just doing my job. Then this guy Lenin gets all mouthy, and insists the poor should all be treated same as the rich, with no red rope or nothing. The owner of the club, Sar Nicholas, says, "you poor people can't come in 'ere dressed like that, this is Smart Casual, can't you read?" But then the army only goes and mutinies and it all kicks off...

Origins of the Indian Mutiny

In 1857, right, India was like this huge Bombay nightclub, with lots of English guys behaving like they owned the place, and lots of Indians being told they were too lower -class to run the place. Everyone kept asking the Indians for ID, and talking about caste, and then they went and insisted that these religious people ate bullets covered in pork fat. Well, that's a situation waiting to happen. I don't hold with waving firearms about, someone could get hurt, I'm a bit of a diplomat, me. As for the pork fat, they could have offered some vol-au-vents or some nice club pretzels, I've seen that defuse a situation, but they wouldn't let it lie and then after the Cawnpore Massacre, it all kicked off...

Invasion of the Falkland Islands

Okay, the Falklands were like a backstreet club that everyone's forgotten and no-one knows who owns it, until this bunch of Latino ponces move in, do it up and start up the banging music until 3am. So the British say, "oi, you got some nerve, that's our club." But the Latino doormen say, "you're not coming in,'ere, it's too late, it's members- only, you're in the wrong uniform, sling your hook". We weren't 'aving that so we got this fleet of lads together, all tooled up, and hung around outside giving them a lot of eyeball. We were polite but firm, and we asked them to vacate the premises before there was any unpleasantness...

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has reiterated his pre-election promise to radically improve the NHS  

How can we save the NHS? Rediscover the stiff upper lip

Jeremy Laurance

Thanks to Harriet Harman, Labour is holding its own against the Tory legislative assault

Isabel Hardman
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada