Saturday, 11 December 2010

Teachers' Advent Hell
Advent calendars sent to teachers by the General Teaching Council are causing classroom chaos up and down the country because of problems with the doors opening, it was revealed yesterday.
The doors on thousands of the GTC calendars are jammed or difficult to open leaving teachers with no option but to ring in late.  And with children missing vital made-up-on-the-spot Christmas quizzes and end of term videos headteacher unions are calling for an independent inquiry.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” slammed one headteacher yesterday.  “I’ve got staff ringing the school saying they’re going to be late in because they are struggling to open the door to their GTC advent calendar.  It makes me furious – who the hell is manufacturing these calendars and why won’t the doors open?
Brett James, a media teacher from Hull was sent one of the faulty calendars:  “The first two doors opened without any trouble at all but Friday’s was really stiff.  I rang my school and told them I’d be late in; they were very understanding and agreed that I ought to find out what I’d got.  I still hadn’t got the door open by 2 o’clock but I thought I’d go in anyway and try to teach as normal.  Fortunately my head of department was really understanding and said I didn’t have to show the DVDs if I didn’t feel up to it.
Neil Blanchard, Head of Science at Featherwaite Community School, Lancashire, couldn’t sleep the night before advent:  “I was obviously very excited.  A friend of mine had been involved in CRB checking the shepherds so it was a real blow to find that the door to the stable was jammed.  It took my wife and me 40 minutes to jimmy the door open – there’s certainly no mention of it in the Bible.”
Matt Sanwell from Plymouth is married to a teacher and is furious at what has happened to his wife.   “My wife had to wait four hours to find out he’d got a candle – that’s just not right.  I wouldn’t want this to happen to anybody.”
Reacting to suggestions that teachers had ‘invented’ the jamming doors and ‘might not be telling the whole truth’ John Simpson of NAWSALT said:  “Why would teachers lie about this?  At this time of year teaching professionals have a wide range of acceptable excuses available to them, such as ‘Influenza Imaginatus and ‘invented sick dependent’ – they’re hardly just going to make this up.  These accusations are simply an attempt by the government to create a smokescreen over the real issue, which is: ‘Why are the doors jamming?’”
Peter Richards, spokesman for the GTC, said, “We want to issue an unreserved apology for what has happened.  Obviously the advent calendars were supposed to be a thank you to teachers for the annual registration fee they have no choice but give us.  In the future we’ll be sticking to tribunals.”

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