There is a moment in every first term of the school year when you realise that the honeymoon is over. If you are working in a school that has lost its way, then the honeymoon can be a shotgun affair. The kids turn up on the first day in September dressed like Billy Bunter but by the second they have morphed into Zammo from Grange Hill (for those too young to understand my references, Google them or ask your parents). For orderly schools like us the honeymoon is more of a slow creep, the odd bit of litter in the stairwell, the dismissive grunt of the year 9 boy as you ask him to tuck his shirt in. Then one lunchtime, as the year 10 girls call each other names, question each other’s parentage and then burst in to tears and the year 8 boys pour sticky orange juice on each other’s heads, you become aware; the honeymoon is over!
This is the point when the tough get going! The old lags put on their best censorious faces, line up year 7s outside their doors and brace themselves for the yearly war of attrition. The new teachers discover that, once the optimism of September wains, they are staring, like Napoleon’s army retreating through the Russian Steppes, at 10 months of ordeal by routine. I am of course being glib, it isn’t that bad, it’s just that the honeymoon has gone and we now test our mettle. It will be team work, support and consistency that gets us through. Our young people will test our defences, look to breach our walls, but we will of course prevail, make them successful and remind them again and again that the adults are in charge.