A while back I went for an interview for the role of Teaching Assistant.
This is a genius idea of someone somewhere. It basically means that those of us with SOME teaching qualifications (but not the ones that mean we can be actual teachers in a British Secondary school) can supervise a class if the teacher is absent/ on holiday/ sick BUT on half the pay that a teacher gets.
The agency that interviewed me are based in Birmingham and the hoops I had to jump through were akin to applying to join MI5.
A Criminal Records Bureau check **, two verbal references, two written references, bank account details, proof of address, proof of passport (i.e. residency rights), proof last 5 years addresses and a face to face interview.
The bloke interviewed me in his office block’s lobby was polite and had a sense of humour, mainly about the ridiculous rules that now govern contact between teachers and pupils.
He told me that ANY physical contact bar self defence or emergency first aid is completely out and asked me the question:
“You’re driving to work, it’s raining VERY badly. You can hardly see for the rain. You pass one of your pupils from the school you’re going to, walking in the rain and soaking wet with no umbrella. What do you do?”
I looked at him and went, “Let me guess. I DON’T pick him or her up!”
“Yes, right answer. What’s the worse that could happen to them if you don’t pick them up?”
“Err…they could get pneumonia and die?”
(Laughs) “No, they’ll just be a bit wet. If you give them a lift then they may claim you touched them and there’s no witnesses to prove you didn’t.”
I looked at him in disbelief but he said with a grin, “I know it’s stupid but that’s how it is these days.”
He then elaborated on this “Everyone Is Sleeper Agent Nonce” rubbish with the following two stories.
One involved a guy who was telling the students to leave the classroom. He placed his hand on one kid’s arm and gently pushed him towards the door. A week later a meeting was held with the police, social services (in case his own children had to go into care due to his nasty, arm touching ways), the Head of the school and the guy interviewing me, as he was the bloke’s boss as the poor sod worked for his agency.
Everyone present agreed to the very upset and nervous teacher, “No harm done. A misunderstanding. You didn't mean any harm. Let’s just move on.”
As they all stood up the police officer present coughed and went, “Err, actually there was a bruise on the boy’s arm so legally it’s an assault.” ***
The teacher is no longer a teacher and can’t work with kids any more.
The second story was a teacher who said to some gobby Chavette in class.
“You’ve got a mobile phone haven’t you?!!”
“You have, I know it!” (Then peers under the desk).
He was accused of trying to look up her skirt BUT kept his job as the “disciplinary” tribunal ruled that it was a cultural misunderstanding as he was from Ghana. ****
As I decided that I really didn’t want to work for this agency or in any school in the UK at all, EVER, he went further with tales of teachers fired for Friending pupils on Facebook (and this is kids aged 15 to 18, not little children), sacked for discussing sex in class (with 18 year old art students) and a Miss who had pictures of herself in a bikini on Facebook, meaning her pupils printed them off and showed them to everyone (presumably while sniggering).
Another teacher wasn't fired but cannot work at a specific school any more, for saying “fuck off” after losing his temper with a misbehaving pupil.
He finally added that it is a company rule that all employees cannot be Friends on any social network with anyone under 18 that they are sent by the agency to supervise.
So all teachers, especially men, are Jimmy Saville reincarnate and just can’t wait to have a fiddle with a school girl’s freshly developed lady bits or a young lad’s budding pubes. They have to be restrained by rules that would make King Joffrey’s reign in Game of Thrones seem benevolent and compassionate by comparison.
The age of consent in England is 16, meaning on your 16th birthday you can shag anyone of any age provided they are also over 16. However in any profession where you are responsible for people under 18 (teacher, social worker, doctor) you can be put on the sex offender’s register for ANY consensual sexual behaviour between you both (or any Facebook contact deemed naughty).
While these rules may seem draconian but necessary in this terrible world of kiddy fiddling monsters, the stupidity of them can be illustrated by the following example.
I do a sport named Krav Maga. It is a self defence system invented in Israel, predominantly for the Israeli army’s Special Forces (i.e. it’s very brutal). It teaches you survival above all else, not just how to win a fight. The primary rule is that you get away so if you can run, you do. Our knife defence techniques show us first to evade the other guy, only taking him/ her on if ABSOLUTELY necessary. The actual moves involve a lot of striking to vulnerable parts of the body like the throat, eyes and groin.
The age to join is 16, but 15 year olds can join with written permission from parents. The Combat class on a Thursday evening is full on, with us helmeted up plus shin guards, forearm guards, gum shields and boxing gloves.
I could be partnered in Krav Combat with a 15 year old girl who is a pupil at the same school I work at as a Teaching Assistant. At the school in the day time I remain professional, speak only in words that are necessary to illustrate my point, don’t tell jokes (in case they’re misunderstood) and if I need to speak to a pupil, I always have another member of staff with me (in case I’m later falsely accused of having lobbed my cock out).
Next day as I’m setting up the Microsoft Powerpoint presentation for Geography , 10th grader Siobhan Davies limps to class with a black eye. In the corridor she passes the Head.
The Head steps out and asks in a concerned voice, “Siobhan, is everything all right?”
Siobhan smiles and points at me, then replies. “I’m fine thanks. Bit sore. Mr Manley kicked me in the fanny™ at Krav Maga last night, then punched me in the face. My dad says it’s my fault for forgetting my groin guard and not keeping my hands up.”
The Head smiles back and says, “Oh, that’s all right then.”
** They sent a copy of this sodding thing to me. I already knew what was on it as I know I haven’t been to prison or ever been arrested. Twats.
*** Even though there were apparently no photos of this bruise and it had healed by the time they had the meeting.
**** The implication of this is that in Ghana it’s apparently ok to peer up a school girl’s skirt but live and let live I say.
™ UK definition of the word.
™ UK definition of the word.