Thursday, 1 May 2008

Lap of the Gods

Kris and I have been interviewing candidates for summer camp leaders. It has been an interesting process for me, and has somehow reminded me of days gone by.

The school I worked at before Mayhem was challenging. More challenging than Mayhem itself in my opinion. We were the registered school for travellers coming into the area - not in itself a problem, but we also had a number of settled travellers. Let's just say they seemed to have their own rules and sometimes it behove them to thrash these rules out physically in the car park.

But I digress.

It was a much smaller school than Mayhem, around one third of the size. My department had three classrooms on a landing with one RE classroom. This meant that some language classes had to be taught elsewhere, but I think the reasoning for not dedicating the RE room to us was that the Head of Department (ie me) was there to look after them as well.
In that Godless place, RE was even more unpopular than languages.

I can remember trying to get a kid to go into the RE lesson.
'No,' he said, 'I ain't going in there, 'e keeps talking about God,'
'It's RE,'
'Well I ain't going in unless 'e swears 'e won't talk about God,'
'It's difficult not to mention God in Religious Education.'
'I ain't goin' in then.'
'Unfortunately, the only way you can avoid RE is to show that you are a practising member of another Faith,'
'Like wha'?'
'They go in there,'
'Clearly the parents of the Muslim children don't choose to have their children opt out,'
'Never mind, Jewish?'
Then followed some unsavoury comments about loss of certain male parts.

But I digress again.

During one of the many shortages of language teachers - and seriously, during a shortage, it's even more difficult to get them to stay and teach in schools like Badlands, I was obliged to travel to London and interview French people. My shopping list was a bit specific. Must be a superbeing able to survive Badlands. In spite of this, I found one. He seemed to be made of sterner stuff than most, so I went back and was allowed to open negotiations.

But two days later, my esteemed Headteacher, and he really was esteemed, just a bit erratic sometimes, had 'found' me a new potential employee. He felt able to interview her himself, along with the Deputy Head who taught in my department, especially since she was French, therefore it seemed unnecessary to conduct part of the interview in French.
I went down to participate during my free period.
She could barely speak English, had a pronounced speech impediment and couldn't answer any of my questions about the National Curriculum, assessment, or any of the standard fare.

'Well, she seems alright,' said the DH. And no, she wasn't attractive in any way that would appeal to the male blind spot.
'Alright in what way?' I asked.
'Well, I think she'd do. '
I wondered whether we'd actually been in the same room and pointed out her deficiencies, plus my feeling that she would last less than half a lesson before bursting into tears.
I had to fight hard, but I got my way. I shouldn't, however, have had to fight at all and it was lucky I was able to crash the party.

I was able, in the end, to appoint the French guy and it worked out well. Lap of the gods.

We're in a shortage situation here now. We have few applications, and yet we have interviewed two really good candidates.
The rest is yet again in the lap of the gods.

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