A Wellbeing Christmas Carol

Marley was dead,to begin with. In fact he had been gone this last seven years and the Scrooge and Marley Academy Trust no longer bore his name after he had failed to attend his return to work interview.  “A humbug of an excuse,” muttered Scrooge, working on his development plan by the light of a single candle.

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“Mr Scrooge,” came a plaintive cry from the booth opposite. Bob Cratchit, the mild mannered History teacher could not be observed, hidden as he was under a vast pile of quadruply marked manuscripts. Taking care not to spill the precious supply of purple ink for the fifth stage of his feedback, Bob slipped from his isolation and timidly approached the desk. “I wished to beg, if it wasn’t too much trouble for you Mr Scrooge, for tomorrow off.”

“A day off! What a humbug!”

“It is Christmas Day sir. And what with Tiny Tim being so unwell sir. And what with your nephew’s free school guaranteeing staff time for family medical emergencies I thought that….”

“You’ll be expecting the whole day then. I’ll dock you the half-crown of your wages. And that data won’t input itself you know.”

Wishing to avoid an evil stare, crossed arms or an unannounced learning walk, Cratchit grabbed his scarf and hat and hurried out of the door. Scrooge meanwhile finished his business and took the candle with him to his chambers.

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That evening, a phantom appeared. “Will you not ask who I am?” asked the visitor. Scrooge cowered. “I am the ghost of Jacob Marley, gone these last seven years. My wellbeing was naturally compromised by my untimely death and the thirty-seven reports I was expected to complete on a Sunday evening. Scrooge: you will be visited this very evening by three spirits. Expect the first as the clock tolls one.”

True to Marley’s word, at 1am a kindly looking man, wearing a dark suit and bearing a clipboard appeared. “I am the Spirit of Wellbeing Past. Come with me.”

They arrived soon enough in a classroom, desk at the front with the teacher sat behind, intoning from the volume before him; children in rows, observant and sitting straight. Incorrect answers met with derision, correct answers with a curt “yes” before the teacher directed the smallest boy to “fetch the art books from Mrs D next door so I may monitor unannounced the progress towards her target grades.”

“That is me, in my younger years. But Spirit; you said you are the Spirit of Wellbeing Past. There is no wellbeing here.”

“Precisely. My fellow spirit will direct you further to the consequences.”

Scrooge slept fitfully, woken at the next hour.

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“I am the Spirit of Wellbeing Present,” uttered the ghost, still in a dark suit and with the same clipboard but with a careworn expression and bags under the eyes.

Scrooge was taken by the Spirit to a staffroom, on the last staff meeting of the term. Equally careworn staff lay strewn over the threadbare chairs, late arrivals perched nervously by the tea urn or leaning on the filing cabinet.

“I recognise this place,” announced Scrooge. “It is the failing school I took into the Scrooge Academy Trust last summer.”

The meeting was in full flow, or at least the interim Head of School was, listing the progress seen in the last twenty minutes, feeding back his monitoring of the shades of blue on the displays and the acceptable level of diversion from the vertical he would accept, which was a very round zero.

One brave soul, due to retire at Easter, piped up. “Where is the wellbeing you promised us?”

“You had half an hour of mindfulness on the training day in September,an Indian head massage the day before half term and a box of oranges from the PTA a fortnight ago. What more do you expect?”

“Workload reforms! Did you not read what the Department sent out?”

“Never heard of them! Probably in my spam emails. You know I never read anything that comes at the weekend or in the holidays.”

At this point the staff collectively sighed as the meeting entered a third hour.

“Your third visitor will come for you soon Scrooge. Be ready.”

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Expecting an empty hooded Spirit, Scrooge was relieved that this one did not reply to his question “You must be the Spirit of Wellbeing Yet to Come, are you not?”

A single bony finger emerged from a gown, pointed at Scrooge and then to Cratchit’s house.

“What am I to see here Spirit? Tiny Tim lying in his coffin whilst his father completes the assessment due tomorrow, barely having time to comfort his wife?”

But no! Before him lay a table, groaning with Christmas fare and the finest prize turkey in pride of place.

“I do believe Mr Scrooge himself was my Secret Santa,” announced Bob, “as the turkey barely fitted onto my desk. The assessments had all been completed overnight and the data entered into the ledger in a hand different to my own.”

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“Mr Scrooge really is a man of integrity, values and principles, with the wellbeing of all his staff at his very heart,” replied Mrs Cratchit. “He gave you time to take Tiny Tim to his appointments, guaranteed your release time and done away with that ghastly purple quill of quality. It is almost as if he has found a toolkit of wellbeing strategies.”

“A Wellbeing Toolkit,” thought Scrooge to himself, now there’s a thought.”

Scrooge had no further unannounced learning walks with Spirits. He lived by the Total Wellbeing Principle ever afterwards. And so as Tiny Tim observed, “God Bless Us, Every One!”

 

 

 

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Christmas Shopping Crisis!

Jocasta has sent Horatio to get the Christmas food shopping from the classy supermarket across the river. However not all goes to plan!

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‘Jocasta! Darling it’s me! I can’t get through the tunnel. There’s been an accident. I could go the long way!’

‘Horatio, don’t do that it will take an age. Jonquil and Dido will be here in two hours, and they’ve got Uncle Rupert with them. He’s 96 and not written his will yet. Worth a squillion, so we have to impress him! Where are you?’

‘On the road through that dreadful industrial estate!’

‘You are going to have to go into that big supermarket on the left.’

‘You mean the one the teachers three doors down go to!’

‘Well they seem to find everything they need.’

‘Those teachers! Always got to be down with the people!’

‘Well it’s that or nothing Horatio, and if Christmas doesn’t happen just as I want I will be making sure there is one little extra chipolata on my plate!’

‘OK darling, whatever you say, but keep in the phone. You are going to have to guide me through this one.’

‘Go to the parent and child spaces. You have got Spartacus with you haven’t you?’

‘Oh yes he is in the back! Hang on though. There are some real ruffians there with buckets and sponges. What are they up to?’

‘They want to clean your windscreen for a ridiculous amount of money with dirty water that has been hanging around all day. Just walk past them!’

‘Doing that darling. Oh they have the most ghastly accents! I don’t suppose they’ve seen a 4×4 where they come from unless it says ‘Police’ on the roof!’

‘Keep your voice down Horatio! Unless you want your wheels stolen or something dreadful left on the back seat.’

‘I’m going in now. It looks like the fruit and vegetables are straight ahead. They have no kumquats! Can you believe no kumquats!’

‘Well look for mandarins, or clementines! Something vaguely orange coloured!’

‘Like this woman in the shell suit in front of me! I think I can see most of the vegetables. What is that Spartacus? You need a pooh? Not now please! Oh too late, but at least it might mask the smell of this place!’ 

‘Head for the butchery aisle next. We need veal cutlets! And lamb shanks.’

‘Excuse me my good man! Can you tell me where I might find the veal? Young cow! Never mind! Lamb shanks? No. I am unfamiliar with 90s gangsta rappers myself. More of a Mozart man if you see how I’m hanging!’ 

‘Try the frozen section if you get desperate!’

‘I’m heading to the drinks now. Oh Spartacus don’t squirm! You are quite pungent aren’t you. Have you been at mummy’s lentil rissoles again? Is it unoaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc that Dido prefers?’

‘Either! And some Chablis for Jonquil.’

‘That dreadful teacher chap. He’s here and he’s hiding the Chablis behind the Blue Nun? Someone has just offered me an orange WKD! I’m heading to the Cranberry Sauce aisle to regroup. Everyone forgets that so nobody will see me there!’

‘For heaven’s sake Horatio! At least get some bread!’

‘Is this square shaped stuff bread! I’ve never seen this before! Hot dog buns! Finger rolls! Nothing rustic or artisan here. Darling I am at a loss! Oh thank heavens there is that awful teacher couple! I will just have to act nice for a change! Speak to you from the car park!’ 

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‘Hello Darling! Me again. John and Lesley were most helpful!’

‘Who?’

‘John and Lesley! The teachers from three doors down! He is making a trifle with Limoncello. Apparently that beastly Liverpudlian baker has a recipe to die for.’

‘James and Liz! I know we don’t mix in their circle but at least try to get their names right!’

‘That’s why they gave me funny looks. Thought it was Spartacus’s deposits! They kept giggling as we were going around. He told me he knew that proletarians were those choux pastry balls with cream and chocolate. We neatly avoided the parsnip punch up and the sprout riot. ‘I predict a spriot’ they both sang. Obviously an in joke. He kept tapping on his phone and smirking. Can’t think why. Anyway, we don’t give them enough credit! They really do have some class, despite what they do for a living! I had to substitute a few things off the list!’

‘Do tell Horatio! This had better be good!’

‘There was no Bleu d’Auvergne, not even Camembert, but I’ve got these delightful soft cheeses in little triangles and something interesting in a tube!’

‘Grissini?’

‘No! But apparently pickled onion Monster Munch is just as good!’

‘Coffee? I must have my macchiato?’

‘Own brand instant is all the rage it seems!’

‘Pecan and Maple liqueur? Surely a Bailey’s? At least I can disguise that with some cocoa and a dash of the Irish!’

‘Apparently they do some great ones inside miniature chocolates!’

‘Langoustines?’

‘Breaded scampi!’

‘Pistachios?’

‘Dry roasted peanuts!’

‘Scallops nestled in Prosecco-infused couscous?’

Fingres de poisson en pain blanc avec coulis des tomates is something we must try!’

‘Fishfinger sandwich in white bread with tomato ketchup is a dirty meal for dirty people! Now Horatio! I am going to read you five items from the list! You are going to tell me what you have instead! I may not be happy!’

‘Go ahead!’

‘Prosciutto, bruschetta, tapenade, prosecco, smoked eel!’

‘Ah!’

‘I don’t like the sound of that!’

‘Ham in a tin! With a magic key! Mighty White! Cheese and Ham Toast Toppers! Babycham! Tin of pilchards! Happy!’ 

‘Horatio! Put it this way! Did you pick up a DIY divorce kit?’

 

 

Four Yorkshire Teachers

 

Our Christmas Eve Blog! For light entertainment in the form of a script. Please read in a Northern accent with a hearty amount of tongue in cheek.

With apologies to Monty Python. For those too young to know who Monty Python was, here is the original!

 

 

Mr Hutton:                   End of t’ school day! There is something magical about seeing all those little kiddies with smiles on their faces, rushing out to their mams and dads isn’t there Mr Boycott.

Mr Boycott:                 Aye Mr Hutton. That and t’ looks of abject horror on t’ parents faces when they see all the reading, and times tables, and words in French, parlez-vous Francais, that they have to learn by the end of t’ week.

Mr Hutton:                   I asked mine to learn ‘clairvoyant’.

Mr Boycott:                 They didn’t see that one coming.

Mr Hutton:                   I’m just making a brew. Would you like one?

Mr Boycott:                 Aye Mr Hutton. Best drink of t’ day! Very gracious of you! I said very gracious of you.

Mrs Close:                   And if you’re doing a pot, don’t forget me and Miss Trueman.

Mr Hutton:                   Will do Mrs Close, will do!

Mr Boycott:                 You’re looking glum lass! What’s bothering ye?

Miss Trueman:            I’ve been trolled on Twitter. I posted a picture of some lovely creative work in groups and some triple marking in green, pink and purple. I had thirty people I don’t know telling me they should be sat in rows while I imparted t’knowledge and mared everything with a big tick.

Mr Hutton:                  Folk with too much time on their hands lass!

Miss Trueman:           At least I didn’t send that picture of us hugging trees. That would have sent them apoplectic!

Mr Boycott:                 In my day we had to troll by pigeon!

Mr Hutton:                  Carrier pigeon?

Mr Boycott:                 Aye!

Mr Hutton:                 Luxury! We had to read t’message, slaughter t’pigeon in cold blood, roast it over an open fire and carry on trolling with smoke signals!

Mrs Close:                   A real fire! We had to send our smoke signals with damp matches and a rolled up Daily Mirror.

Miss Trueman:           What’s really getting me down is t’work. Having to get this class to Expecting t’expected standard just to get my pay rise.

Mrs Close:                   Fair play lass! You don’t get owt for nowt in this game.

Miss Trueman:            I know that Mrs Close, but I’m already working 21 hours a day and paying t’ Head teacher for t’ privilege.

Mr Hutton:                   I was reading that we are only going to get more cash if t’ whole school results improve.

Mrs Close:                   Not a problem Mr Hutton. I haven’t got any more of those ‘Working towards Working up to Developing of the Expected Standards’ in my class this year!

Mr Boycott:                 What have ye done with them? Locked them in t’ cupboards like t’ last time?

Mrs Close:                   No! I’ve moved them?

Miss Trueman:            Moved them! What on earth do you mean?

Mrs Close:                   Not actually physically moved them per se! My youngest son Richard the third (pause) of my children is a genius on t ‘interweb. He hacked int’ t’ database of t’ local authority and gave them all a new post code. They’ve all had to leave, and all get bussed of to Manchester!

Mr Hutton:                   Best place for them I say! I said best place for them.

Mr Boycott:                 But your class is full Mrs Close.

Mrs Close:                   Aye Mr Boycott it is. Of ‘Exceeding t’Development of ‘Greatest Depth’ children. Our Richard hacked t’ details of t’ posh school up t’ road. All those kids from t’ private estate at top of hill have got to come here now.

Miss Trueman:             You mean with t’ dads who speak like William Hague and t’ mums who sound like Dame Judi Dench.

Mrs Close:                   That’s them pet. All in my class now. Boosting standards and meeting targets. My pay rise is in t’ bag lass.

Mr Hutton:                   You’re a canny one Mrs Close! I said you’re a canny one! Wouldn’t you agree Mr Boycott?

Mr Boycott:                 Aye you’re right there Mr Hutton. Is that why we haven’t been turned into an academy yet?

Miss Trueman:            Has teaching always been like this Mr Hutton?

Mr Hutton:                   No lass! I remember when we didn’t have to set a target for t’ number of times a child used the –oo- sound in a book.

Mr Boycott:                 That’s nothing! I recall when there wasn’t a National Curriculum and we could teach whatever we wanted. I remember teaching nothing but the works of The Brontes and Alan Bennett for a whole year.

Mrs Close:                   In them days I would keep a field trip on t’ moors for two weeks without a worry for risk assessments or Health and Safety.

Mr Hutton:                  In a tent!

Mrs Close:                   Aye!

Mr Hutton:                   You were lucky! I once re-enacted t’ Battle of Marston Moor on the playground in a force 9 gale, in full battle dress and with replica weaponry.

Mr Boycott:                 Me too. Battle of Wakefield! Wooden replicas?

Mr Hutton:                   Aye!

Mr Boycott:                 Luxury! We had original axe heads! And a pot of glue to stick t’kids ears back on!

Mrs Close:                   Right! I remember when I could get in here at 9 o’clock just as t’ kids were arriving, have a fag in t’ staffroom, meet t’ inspectors for a pie, a pint and a game of darts, not fear for your job, give t’ kids a clip round t’ ear for being cheeky, just give a big tick for your marking, and go home at the same time as your class.

Mr Hutton:                   Aye! Them were the days!

Mr Boycott:                 And you try and tell the young teachers of today that ….. they won’t believe you.