Teaching and Trainspotting (Rousse)

The school secretary informed me that my first class as a newly qualified teacher would be mathematics with the fourth years – even though I was completely unqualified to teach this subject at secondary level. When I learnt that my group was the remedial set, I agreed to give it a go.

Then the secretary added that the focus of the class this week should be ‘safe smoking’. I immediately withdrew my agreement, stating that I had a strong moral objection to teaching such a subject. I suggested that the school invite instead my friend LF to lead a session on smoking cessation. The secretary did not have the authority to act on this proposal, so she left it for the time being and then said that she would give me a tour of the premises.

First we passed a small classroom where four hulking teenage boys dressed in ‘leisure wear’ sat at a row of desks. When the secretary told me that each of them was paired with a teacher, I assumed that these were the special needs pupils. I was completely wrong. They were the stars of the school, destined for top universities, with specific members of staff serving as their academic mentors.

Next, at assembly, I heard the school song for the first time. All the staff and pupils joined in at the tops of their voices, some with their hands over their hearts as an act of loyalty.

I later learnt that the school song was composed by the person responsible for the soundtrack music for Trainspotting.

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