The Working People

Entry by: maxieslim

7th March 2017
The Supply Teacher

“You’re the supply, right?”

“Yes, John. John Ritchie.”

“Well, I’m Amanda. Amanda Evans. I’m the admin here. I’m also your fairy godmother.”

“Pardon me.”

“You’ve not been here before have you?

“No, I did a couple of weeks at Lowtown Grammar.”

“Lowtown. Oh, middle class area. Nice pupils, nice parents and McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives in the staff room. Lucky you. I’m afraid our budget doesn’t run to choccy bics I’m afraid. You’re in Costco land here. Anyway follow me, I’ll show you the ropes.”

“What did you mean, fairy godmother?”

“Ah, a listener. Usually supply teachers never listen to a word I say. They’re so nervous about the kids they’re just thinking about survival. Well, it can be likened to a war zone, I mean we get our share of suspensions, one expulsion a term is probably the norm. No-one’s been killed here yet. We’re quite good with CPR. I daresay you’ll cope. Oh, nice tie by the way but ditch it. You could get yourself strangled with that. Better to be safe than sorry, eh?  You’ll have more issues with the staff I’m afraid.  Hence the phrase, fairy godmother. I can grant you three wishes Mr Ritchie, one, I can say that you never turned up. We get a lot of that. Two, you can go to the staff room in all ignorance and take your chances or three you can spend some time with me, listening to the wisdom of someone who has seen supply teachers come and go, mostly never to return. Some have even found religion, usually Buddhism or one of those new-fangled made up ones, not that all religions aren’t based on make believe…oh you’re not religious are you? I hope not, you look so sensible for that.”

“No, I’m not. Look what’s all this…”

“No time for questions, John. All fairy godmothers supply three wishes. I can only give you one. The benefit of my knowledge of this place.”


“Um is probably three in Swahili or Urdu or maybe Welsh. You’re not Welsh are you by any chance? I had a bad experience in Rhyl once. Not the best place to have any kind of experience by the way, good or bad. Anyhow, look. You’re here covering for Mr Trowbridge aren’t you? History to GCSE. Very nice man, Trowbridge but was never cut out to be a teacher. He’ll be off for quite some time, in fact I doubt he’ll be back so if you play your cards right there could be a permanent position coming up soon and well, I don’t have to spell it out for you, do I? “


“Now this is Room 2c. This is where you’ll do most of your teaching. Room next to you is Miss Radford’s. Teaches Year 7 to 9 Maths. Ginger hair, single. Quite plain. Lives with her cat. She’d like a boyfriend so watch your step. I wouldn’t think she’d make a play for you but you never know. I think she’s aiming for someone with a little more clout, I believe she has her eyes set on our Vice Head, Mr Armour. You’ll see him later. He’s married but his wife has terminal cancer. You’re not married are you; that’s not a question by the way. I’ve seen your CV. Girlfriend?”

”Er, no.”

“Boyfriend? No, you ticked heterosexual. Nothing against gays but kids can be cruel if they ever find a weak link. Come to think of it so can some of the staff. Men’s toilets to the right, stationery store. First left I have the key. You’ll need to fill out a pink slip which you’ll find in your personal locker in the staff room. Here’s the key. Please don’t lose it. If you lose it you will be charged for a replacement. You are allowed one pink slip a week so make sure you order what you require. Slips need to be in by Monday lunchtime. No later.” 

“I’ll try to remember.”

“Trying will not get you a supply of pens or exercise books Mr Ritchie. Remember that. You will be expected to cover playground duty once every fortnight. I say playground with a degree of cynicism in my voice, you may have noticed that. Pupils at Lowton don’t play in the traditional sense. It can be grand warfare. If any fights break out between the girls don’t get involved. If it’s the boys use minimal violence to break it up, unless it involves the Carter boys.”

“The Carters?”

“They put Mr Chivers in hospital for a week last term but one of them was expelled. The other’s hardly ever here. Don’t bring in anything valuable, anything of sentimental value and don’t leave your mobile unattended. Some of year 11 girls picked up the last supply’s phone and took photos of themselves on it. Some of the photos were somewhat devoid of clothing. His girlfriend found them and cancelled their wedding. He was almost prosecuted. Gave up teaching of course. I believe he’s opted for a military career. So much safer. The Taliban has nothing on the kids of the Pilot Estate. Now, I’m going to show you the staffroom. The classroom may be your minefield but the staffroom’s your assault course. Before we go in please listen carefully. The staffroom has rules, all unwritten and all invisible. Break any of these and your career here will grind to a swift painful end. The kids are bad enough, the staff are worse. Look through the window. The chap in the armchair is the deputy head Mr Frobisher. Never sit in his chair. If he seems a little lop-sided it’s because of the chip on his shoulder. He believes that he should’ve been made Head two years ago. The truth is he shouldn’t even be a deputy. He’s a small man with a large ego. Teaches Maths to the sixth form and has a penchant for gin.  Don’t get on his wrong side because he’s a vindictive bastard.
That girl with the mousey hair. That’s Miss Peters. Plain little thing isn’t she? Teaches Social Studies and RE. Very timid and shy. Drinks green tea and is a vegetarian. Always wears long sleeved cardigans even on hot summer days. She’s a self-harmer.  Tries to keep it a secret but most of us know. She has a cat called Jekyll. Not married of course, poor girl. I’m sure she’d love a boyfriend but I’m afraid she’s doomed to spinsterhood.
 That’s Mrs Brown. The fat one. She teaches Geography. She married an African whom she met online. Of course he left her after a few weeks. Fleeced her out of thousands. No fool like a fat fool is there?   
The tall chap in denim is David Gilzean. Maths. Has two year old twins with his girlfriend who works in the City. He’s a bit of a womaniser. There have been rumours of an affair with Paula Smith. She’s the one in the tracksuit. Girls PE teacher. Bisexual. She lives with Sally Jennings one of the teaching assistants. She steals food from the fridge. If your yoghurt is missing you can bet its Sally. No-one says anything of course.
The men’s PE teacher, Phil Clemence is banned from the staffroom. He has poor hygiene standards. He’s very old school. Calls a spade a spade if you get my meaning. Stood for the BNP in the last election. Fourteen people actually voted for him. Probably former pupils. Even the thickest leave here with the ability to place an X!
Lois Walker, my deputy falls madly in love with any man who glances her way. Please don’t look at her. There’s a limit to how many times I have to take her to hospital after an overdose.
The French teacher, Ms Lato is Polish. She’s sleeping with Mr Saul our headmaster, His wife Sally Mae our Biology teacher left him three weeks ago. She’s Thai. She has a website we’re not supposed to know about advertising some interesting takes on Biology. It’s
The dark girl in the corner on her phone is Miranda Benjamin. If you see her crying leave her. She’s in an abusive relationship. Don’t get involved. If you talk to her outside school grounds you are risking serious injury. Her partner, has a banning order from approaching the school. If she talks to you outside school grounds you are on your own. No-one will intervene if you are getting beaten up. To her partner, just looking at her constitutes evidence that you are sleeping with her. If you actually do sleep with her take out medical insurance.
Mr Mukarjee, the thin chap over by the notice board is our IT manager. He’s a born again Pentecostal Christian. Don’t give him your address or arrange to meet him after work. He’ll try to convert you.  There is a prayer room in B Block. The Asian kids use it to smoke weed. If we close it the parents complain.
You’ll be in charge of class 3c. You’ll have parents evening next month. Just because you’re a supply doesn’t mean you’ll get out of that. Here is a dossier on 3c. It’s comprehensive. Memorise it. The Carter boy isn’t in your class but you have others that will try to cause you grief. Never be alone with any pupil, boy or girl. We don’t do one to ones here, not since the unfortunate incident with Mr Knowles. 
I’ll give you a second briefing before Parents evening. Have no fear. Bring your own lunch. The school dinners leave a lot to be desired. Don’t bring peanuts. Some of the pupils are allergic to them. If you do bring satay in for lunch and one dies say you weren’t aware of it.  
Now, here’s a key to your staff locker; sign here. Here’s a key to your desk. Sign here. Don’t lose either. You’ll have a ten minute talk with Lorna Kane the Head of Year 3 in about ten minutes. Just agree with everything she says. She doesn’t like to be contradicted. Remember it and then forget it. She’s a member of the local Labour Party. Very left wing. Try not to mention Lowtown Grammar, She hates grammar schools. If she does ask about it, tell her you hated it. Middle class privilege and all that. In a few weeks she’ll ask you out for a drink. Don’t accept as it generally means a party rally.
Right, you’re on your own. Welcome to Harold Wilson Comprehensive. Good luck!”