There won’t be any shouting in the new school!

So said one principal of a new centre for learning recently. Unfortunately, some new schools, new centres for learning even, seem to ignore some uncomfortable realities about what it is to be a young person, teacher or indeed even human being.

Whatever the rhetoric of dialogue and conversation, there will be staff meetings where announcements are made followed by the brusque shouting out of names, machine gun rat-a-tat of information and further name shouting.

Whatever the architectural demands, there will still be a desire of young women and young men to occupy different spaces when it comes to their ablutions, picking off of acne scabs and throwing of ciggies down the latrines.

Whatever the politics of corridor decoration, posters will become magnets for other posters and there will always a school wag who has to make their mark on the pristine wall hanging.

Whatever the urge for academic rigour and attainment, the fibs will continue to flow cheerfully. The only school ever to have received this national award? The best performance of Grease I’ve ever seen in any school? Mr. Jones was one of the best appointments I ever made? Thank goodness we’re all one big happy community!

Sometimes, we have to give thanks to the portacabins, the empty fields and unassuming concrete of the sixties. They’ve seen many rhetorical times live and fade away and have at least left fond memories of those who once prowled the school perimeters, eating crisps and tearing their school blazers on the boundary barbed wire.

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