supply teacher

Undercover Teacher

Alex Dolan is a science teacher who went undercover in British schools as a supply teacher for the filming of a Channel 4 programme, Undercover Teacher, exposing the poor behaviour in some areas of the education system.

Alex Dolan is a journalist and former science teacher who worked undercover for 6 months investigating whether the education system could be failing Britain's children.

During her stay at the schools, she encountered serious bad behaviour (particularly at Highbury Grove School in London). Her first school was Intake High in Leeds. This school had to be put under special measures as it was failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education. In her first lesson, it took her 20 minutes to calm down a group of rowdy pupils. They refused to take their hoodies off and put their iPods down. Two pupils began hitting each other, and she had to break it up. She asked a pupil to work, and he told her to fuck off. Disturbed by the poor behaviour, she went to other members of staff and asked them if they thought they were acting this way because she was a supply teacher. They assured her it was normal. One teacher recounted how an extremely disruptive pupil refused to leave the room. He called in a senior staff member, and he threw a chair across the room.

Her next lesson was a computing class. The pupils did not do work,and instead played games. Half of the pupils left the class 10 minutes before the class ended. She told a fellow computing teacher about it, and he simply said welcome to the computing department.

Her next school was the most badly behaved of the lot: Highbury Grove. She had a class for science that was the worst in the school. They apparently rioted regularly for their normal teacher. Alex was very concerned about teaching this class. Within the first 10 minutes of the lesson, chaos broke out. One pupil began pointing a fire extinguisher at the rest of the class. Other pupils began climbing on desks, and two brandished a chair as weapons, implying they were going to throw it. Two pupils began fighting. Several desks were overturned, and someone was pushed into a shelf, causing all the jotters to fall off. The classroom was in a wreck after the class.

In another class, three girls dressed in hoodies walked in 20 minutes after the lesson had started. The teacher asked them to leave the room, but they ignored her and continued to talk amongst themselves, sucking lollipops. One of the girls threw her bag at the teacher. The teacher called for help, but no one came.

She heard horror stories from teachers. One said their was three fights in his lesson. Another teacher said a boy had masturbated in front of her in class. When she went for help, no one did anything. Another teacher said he had been knocked out by a pupil in class. The pupil was not expelled. The worst behaved pupil in the whole thing was a girl who was playing loud music on her mobile phone. Alex kept asking her to stop, but she went crazy and got in her face, shouting, "Don't Make me hurt you! I swear to God I'll do it!" This was the first time Alex had been physically provoked in class. The school had 311 fixed term exclusions and 101 permanent exclusions.

Her last school was the best behaved. It was called Saint Ninian's. Tony Blair had refused to have his children attend there. They had a very strict punishment scheme. On one occasion, there was a case of vandalism,and a teacher shouted, "Go home scum; we hate you!" On another occasion, every pupil in the school had to sit in the hall for 6 hours doing nothing, after bad behaviour. Alex thought it was too strict. Alex was very depressed at the end of the programme about how the British school system was failing. She told a nice story at the end about how a little girl from Intake High School wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and said, "We have 28 supply teachers since the start of the year, and we are a GCSE class." This inspired Alex to tell this story.

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