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Thursday, 7 June 2012

Reports, Mayhem, 'Flu, Stress and Diarrhoea

This has not been a good week at Nuova Lazio High School.

It's reports' time.

The time when all of the teachers based in what we laughingly refer to as Stalag Luft III have to "write" a report to the parents on what their little bastards offspring have been doing for the last 20 weeks.

Because we live in an age of Political Correctness, we have to be very careful of which we write.

In the golden years of reports in the Victorian era, simple but heartfelt comments like:

"This child was born to hang"


"This child's attitude is as bad as his work"


"On no account should this child be ever allowed to breed"

Carried the teacher's thoughts (and possibly long repressed desires) to the unfortunate owners parents of the child concerned.

These days we just cannot "tell it as it is."

Every bloody comment has to be positive.

If little Johnny has just wrecked the entire music department, smashed 3 guitars, demolished 15 keyboards and shit under the teacher's desk, all we would be allowed to say would be something like:

"John has a very bubbly personality that sometimes obstructs his obvious desire to learn."

If pushed, we might be permitted to say "John does, we believe, require a little extra help in understanding the essentials of personal hygiene"  but that would require the approval of  a member of the senior management.

Which takes me nicely to the complete fuck-up (yes, I didn't use an *, it's gone past that) visited upon the school by the comsumate master of the fuck-up, namely Ringo.

For the last few years, a member of the Senior Management (ably aided on the technical [explain how the f*cking computer system actually works] by my good self) has been responsible for the design of the overall reports structure.

We/they've tried different models.

We've tried proof-reading committees, where teachers (again like myself *blushes slightly, buffs fingernails on cardigan front, and looks down bashfully* with good grammar, syntax and proof-reading abilities) check all of the comments produced by our colleagues BEFORE they get printed and posted home.

We've tried many models.

We've tried proof-reading buddies, teams, supervisors, double back-checking, more committees to little benefit.  Let's face it, many teachers couldn't recognise a properly parsed sentence if it was covered in curry sauce and smeared over the voluptuous body of a nymphomaniac adolescent who had absorbed enough Strontium 90 to make her glow in the dark. (Note.  This was an example of hyperbole.  Just because I teach computing doesn't mean I'm illiterate.)

Hyperbole in action.

But this year, I get the feeling that Ringo, who was placed in charge of this particular element of the school/parent communication infrastructure (his words, not mine) decided to try a whole new method.

The best descriptor I can think of his "method" would be something like: "Fuck it, I'll just let things happen" "Oh, and I'll get the youngest and most inexperienced teacher in the whole f*cking school to design the flow of the information"

I'm so glad that I was removed from the responsibility of setting up our computer system to produce the reports this year.  I don't think I could have stomached working for such a f*ck-wit.

The overall result can be described as a mixture of mayhem, suicidal levels of stress, impossible deadlines, inflexible organisation and a bumbling, incomprehensible, disjointed and contradictory set of instructions.
Ringo's flow diagram and organisation chart

I just slid into the background, did my own comments (utilising my own patent brand of random phrase generator which fools 99% of parents into thinking I actually really f*cking care about the academic progress of their little psychopath.  The other 1% don't even read the bloody things)

I made sure that my reports were as grammatically perfect as possible, and with Hobbit to check for any oversights (I'm not absolutely perfect, just don't tell me), my job was finished well before the deadline.

So I could concentrate on other things.

Like having 10 teachers off tomorrow for entirely justified things.

Like going to see Lady F*cking Gaga in concert.

Like taking a few days off because you're a bit upset.

It's cheaper

Like taking a day off because you little doggie has to go to the vet.  Christ, can't they just shoot the bloody animal and put it out of it's misery.  Worked for me.  AND saved on the vet bill.

Like taking 3 days off because you've got a parasitic gastric infection picked up in Fiji... well...fair enough.  It is difficult to teach our little feral monsters when there's shit dribbling down your leg.
It tends to detract from your concentration and basic survival skills, like spotting little Jemima creeping on her belly towards the DVD player, actually playing on a TV in the class and trying to stuff it into her backpack. (This last, by the way, is not a figment of my imagination, but an actual event which happened (not to me I should add) last year)

So reports are all f*cked up.

The teachers are all f*cked up.

Most of the senior management are on some cloud-cuckoo land where everything is perfect.

And Ringo stands on the ultimate pedestal of the supreme f*ck-upper-in-chief.
The Pedestal of Fuck-up-idness

And so another week in NLHS descends into the sunset. 

And chaos.

Just in case you (the readers of this blog if so you exist ) are wondering how I survived the memory lapse of completely forgetting my Beloved's our anniversary, the answer is simple.

I just threw large amounts of money about.

As soon as I arrived at school, I got on the phone and ordered a gigantic bunch of flowers, accompanied by a bottle of champagne and a very tasteful Helium balloon, to be delivered to my Beloved during her Mah Jong club meeting. 

The card enclosed read:  "Surprise" "I bet you thought I'd forgotten our beautiful 34 years together"


Lying and money do work.


  1. I just googled Ringo and got a picture of what I'm pretty sure is an equine quadruped's rectum.

    I don't think I'll google you TSB. Just in case.

    Lying and money - that's what makes the world go round eh-no?

    1. You're showing your usual exemplary internet search skills Alistair, but I agree, don't search for me, you might not survive the shock.

      Isn't it strange that we tend to vote for the boggest liars?

  2. I never understood why the report-checking committee was abandoned late last year. There are some people at NLHS who are literate, including your good self. (I understand you spent part of your younger years in Fife, which is close to Edinburgh. Apparently the best English is spoken in that city. It must have rubbed off on you.)

    The great thing about the committee was that there was always someone else on the spot to check with. I'm not ashamed to say that I did that frequently. Plus, we could fix obvious errors instantly, on the computer, without having to send them back into what Mr Braces quite rightly calls The Lottery.

    I've always thought that a school must produce perfectly crafted English in its public pronouncements if it is to have any credibility.

    I saw the flowchart devised by He Who Must Not Be Named. I wasn't hopeful then that it would produce quality that would impress your more discerning customers/consumers/clients and the wider world. I am sure it will produce more stress than you poor buggers deserve.

    1. I think one of the resons was that many members of the proof-reading committee didn't want to do it again. All we got ut of it was two late nights and a carry-out chinese meal. The other part of the problem was that some on the committee didn't proof read very well, and too many tried to impose their idea of a writing style on others. I know you and i didn't, but there were some who did.

      I've just finished proof-reading Hobbit's comments and only concerned myself with:
      Name of pupil correct
      Spelling correct
      Punctuation and syntax correct
      Does it mke sense.

      That was it, I wouldn't change anything else.

      The levels of stress are the highest I've seen in 9 years. It got so bad that last night i got permission to get in a couple of relievers to cover the Deans and form teachers as required so they would have more time to finish their reports.

  3. There's no doubt about it; we live in a mamby-pamby era. Not sure the Victorians had it right but surely we've swung too far to the other extreme. Every child is successful. Every child is special.

    My arse.

    Had a big laugh over the National Lampoon pic. A famous cover! It took my back to my salad years.

    You can repair pretty much anything with cash. I accidentally booked a trip to Las Vegas with the guys on MOTHER'S DAY weekend. One iPad later, no problem!

    1. It would be so easy to write what the little darlings are really like in class, but don't get me wrong. 90% of the kids are nice. They do silly things sometimes, but they're just kids, it happens. It's the other 10% that are the problem.

      Good choice on the iPad, but couldn't you have invited your partner to las Vegas with you?

  4. Twisted Scottish Bastard.
    When I read my kids' reports, I actually allow for political correctness and to read between the lines; to work out what they would say if they were allowed.
    One maths teacher did call me on a Sunday afternoon (I was dreading finding out why) . . . he said I'm just calling to tell you "Geekster" has 100% in his recent exam, I thought you'd like to know?! errr yes. Lovely. Phew!
    Good move on the anniversary.

    1. Well done on your interpretation skills, but not all are blessed with such common sense as you.

      Phoned you on a Sunday?
      Bloody Hell, the man must be a Saint. I can tell you that on a Sunday afternoon, my thoughts are a million miles away from school or anything to do with it. I've been known to send a letter home with some good news like 100% marks, but "Never on a Sunday"

      Congrats to Geekster on getting that 100%

  5. Great post TSB! I wrote about PC reports too, this morning, before reading your post.
    Have a great day at the mad house.

    1. I read your post Richard, and totally agre with it, although I thought your language was to temperate.

      Every day uis a great day if:
      a) I'm still breathing at the end of it.
      b) I haven't throttled any kids.
      c) When Ringo's not in.

    2. And he's not in today. Yip, yip, yahoo.

  6. Dear Twisted, Editing someone else's writing is an art. On one hand, you must respect the person who has drafted the document and on the other hand, the writing must be intelligible - so I agree with your approach. As a parent, I do hope my children's reports will tell me something about their progress and I won't be distracted by too many spelling errors. Well done regarding the birthday save - she knows, of course... Linda

    1. Dear Linda, thans again for visiting, it's always nice to read your comments, and I don't even feel the need to edit them.

      Sometimes teachers write in too formal a style, I still think we should write in a more approachable format, calling a spade a spade. I still remember the comments on my own reports when I was in Primary school. For some reason "Must try harder" sticks in my mind.

      I know she knows, but does she know that I know she knows?

      Ah, married life, full of mutual pretence.
      And love.

  7. Hi Scottish Bastard (I love being allowed to call you that, it's so liberating),

    Just wanted to say that I hope you get well. I feel sorry for you because I know feeling unwell for an ongoing amount of time can make a person a bit tetchy. I especially feel for you that you have to put on the nice guy facade while teaching all day. I can't imagine how exhausted you must be at the end of it. And it's still quite a while away before it's school holidays again. Sorry, I'm probably just making you feel worse.

    I'm so glad you brought up the subject that sometimes teachers don't have the best writing skills. I'm not saying I'm a great writer (hah, obviously), but I am saying that over the years, when reading correspondence from my kid's teachers, I've often thought their grammar was sometimes incorrect or that the way they worded things was a bit "off". But being of the old school way of thinking (ie. teachers are gods), I just pushed those thoughts away and told myself I'm imagining things. So it's just nice to have that out in the open and confirmed.

    As for their reporting on your child's behaviour. Well, where do I begin. I really wish they'd just say what they mean and to hell with being politically correct. I still am not sure when something is a genuine compliment or when it's being used as an incentive for improvement. I'm thinking of those little merit certificates they give out at assemblies. I've witnessed some very strange certificates being handed out. One 6th grader got a certificate for coming to school every day and handling life well. To me, that's just broadcasting the kid's issues to all and sundry. Maybe you don't do that in High School.

    Okay, TBS. Now I'm taking a big breath and going to tell you that there is only one thing I don't like about you - seeing as we're being all honest and open here. It's to do with your dog. Please tell me you are joking when you say you kick it? I want you to be joking. Are you?

    It just goes to show, even people with really open minds and people who aren't offended by the sight of yucky arseholes can be offended by the dog stuff. I know if I don't like what I read I should just not click on your blog, but the problem is that I'm addicted to it and I don't want to miss out.

    I still think your're lovable.


    1. Don't worry Tracy, I don't really kick the little shit machine. I may feel that way sometimes, but I'm really a very gentle bloke.

      Unless I'm having to spend a lot of time with Ringo, then I do feel a tad homicidal, but I take it out on the kids, not the canine.

      We do give our younger kids certificates for 100% attendance, but that's part of the drive to make the kids feel better about themselves and to reward good attendance, which is a bit of an issue here in Nuova Lazio high School, especially amongst the staff.

      I'm glad you feel that we should be writting reports based on "real" language, but the education sector seems determined to keep the language used on the formal side. At least we don't use the word pedagogue very often.

    2. Oh, BTW, I think I'm lovable too.


    3. Oh phew, glad that's all cleared up. Thanks : -)


  8. I feel like I was born to write these reports.

    "Little Tommy is not quite as useless and stupid as some of his classmates but he is trying hard to compete in those areas."

    "Janie has made me reevaluate my position on lobotomies."

    "Dan has been making great strides. He has learned how to use the toilet!"

    1. Laoch, you've obviously missed your vocation. You could make lots of bucks writing our reports for us.
      Please set up a blog immediately where we can send you the names and then you can write the rest.

      Please remember, no swear words.

  9. It reminds me of the peformance evaluation rubbish that I endured when working for a large company.
    The damned procedure (American initiated) was so complicated, convoluted and of course PC it made me want to puke. I had to constantly manoevre between saying things that might make the poor wee things cry(any 30 minus people nowadays are from a generation of sissies who have been brought up being told that they are wonderful), and overdoing it and on the one hand giving them thoughts above ther station or on the other taking out constructive dismissal proceedings against the company.
    What a crock of shit.
    I'd rather (as I can now in a much smaller company) just sit them down and either mentor or admonish them and everyone is happier.
    (They still cry though).

  10. I need you to post a pretty first picture on your posts so that when I open up my blog I don't see some red, shiny, corpulent, hemorrhoid ridden arse staring at me when eating my breakfast. I have removed you from my pictorial blogroll and will not put you back until I see something pretty, like ponies or puppies or fairies or summit! You're warped! Bastard :-)

    1. You don't like raspberries?

      But you ave my word that my next post will open with the most gorgeous picture I can imagine.


      As far as your comment goes about being warped...thank you, you're too kind. *wipes tear from eye*

  11. Hmmnn lots of intersting chatter about reports. It doesn't seem to get any easier as each year goes by does it? I find myself doing this task again. Last tiem was two eyars ago and it was a breeze - short, sweet and manual - yes handwritten and limit of 2 short paragraphs or 70 words max. But now its back to the same old shit on a student management system. But oh dear I have had to regress to bloody MUac after 5 years of Kamar. Truly horrible.
    God bless MS WOrd and Cut and Paste, that's all I can say.
    Wehave ben provided with a lovely maunla/guidleline handbook though by our SLT and its great, including comment banks for KC's and general comments. Takes all ht thinking out of it really. Well it's all about grammar at then end of the day eh. Have a nice weekend.

    "Grammar - the difference between knowing your shit and knowing your'e shit".

    1. You're right, it doesn't seem to get easier. At least this time I've been removed of all responsibility for anything to do with reports, so I can watch from the sidelines and laugh, and laugh and laugh as they all f*ck it up.

      We do miss Ex-Clive you know, as he was looked on as the font of all grammatical and syntactical lore.

      We never used MUSAC for reports for some reason. When I started at NLHS, they were using some bastard combination of Excel and a mail merge into word. *shudder*

  12. I totally loved reading that! I think I'll be here all night now, have some catching up to do! I really want to meet Ringo now!

    1. Thank you Thenext Genny, and thank you for commenting. Believe me, please, really listen to my words:

      Please repat as a mantra for the next 8 hours.
      If you can find one, get innoculated against Ringoitis.

      Most of us at NLHS are immune, having already had a bad dose of Ringoitis, recovered and developed antibodies. My antibody is a rather large baseball bat, which I want to use on him at every opportunity.

    2. Hey speaking of the devil incarnate Ringo do you see the bastard has got himself published again. In today's newspaper under letters to editor. A god damn it he even mentions "pedagogy". This dud is wasted in education. He would make a brilliant spin doctor instead. Any excuse to state his left leaning political ideolgies. It's all a great yawn really. Gave me a chuckle over my porridge this morning though.

  13. You need to take the private school approach to unacceptable behaviour... "Thanks (Second) , the culprits (throwing manderines into the urinal) came out of the wood work, they are hanging from the trees down the back end of the school grounds".
    My boss has a great sense of humour!

    1. Wow, RESPECT, impressed.
      Your boss actually hung the little buggers from the trees?

      He should come up to NLHS, we could use his skills to decorate our trees with at least 12 little scrotes.

  14. Classic, yes throwing money at things always works so nicely. Does Ringo read your blog? He should. I feel for you on the creative writing reports. If you think its PC there, you should come to the East Bay. California the land of the fabulous child where every movement is gold starred.

    1. I do think that Ringo reads the blog, because some days he just cuts me cold as we pass in the corridor, ignoring my polite "good morning Ringo, you f*cking deviant no-good self-aggrandizing bastard" without as much as a nod.
      What a bastard.

      We've heard of CA, the land of the bronzed beauties, the Watts riots, the home of NCIS LA, the place where every child is special.

      Wouldn't it be fun to get all these golden children together and dump them on the back blocks of Poverty Bay and see how they'd cope?

      Actually I bet that most would adapt quickly and have fun. They're being mollycoddled too much.

      Mind you, seeing the pictures of your kids on your blog, they look great.

  15. TSB - school reports! What a joke they are!! Things not much better here. All is spun to be positive. But who benefits from this? The school? Certainly not the pupils. A good dose of reality is what a lot of these cocky little blighters need.

    My own personal favourite, muttered when some feral-faced little hobbit is pictured on the TV: 'Next time you see that face, there will be a number underneath it.' Alluding to the police photos of criminals :-D

    Ali x

    PS - good work on the Anniversary Salvaging :-)

    1. Welcome back Ali x, haven't seen your comments for a while. I actually thought some of the pics might have scared you away.

      Yep, school reports are mostly a waste of ink, paper and time. One of my colleagues actually wrote "Why does this boy bother coming to school?" and was severely reprimanded by a senior manager for using such "inappropriate language"

      I love the phrase "feral-faced little hobbit". Would you mind if I used it in a report?

      We went out for a run today.
      Everything was sweetness and light.

      Until she spotted the Visa Receipt lying in the car.

      The one for the flowers, champagne and Helium baloon.

      Things went a little downhill after that.

  16. A very funny post... I always thought those teachers comments were drawn out of a hat or something. Mine always sounded like they were for some other kid..some other much smarter kid.

    1. They probably were for another kid.

      I'll let you into a little secret.

      All kids look the same.
      They smell the same.
      They have the same irritating habits.
      They use the same annoying slang.
      They're interchangeable, and so are their reports.

    2. Have you tried just writing one with the "Forer Effect" in mind and saving yourself the effort every year?

    3. To be honest, I'd never heard of the Forer Effect before, but after some research, I not only like it, I've been using it for 15 years.

  17. Yes, I guess after so many years you must get sick of the same jokes every year by a new set of pimple factories..

    1. Oh No, I never let them tell any jokes. That's just going too far.

  18. Congratulations on saving your anniversary.

    I wonder if our school district proofreads teacher comments before they're sent out? It never occurred to me that it might be a policy to do so.

    1. I didn't so much save the anniversary as save my side of it.

      I wonder why the onus is on the bloke?

      I just realized that I didn't get any sort of prezzy from my Beloved.

      I would think that they are checked in some way.


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