The Fever Season

It’s that time of year again.

Breath becomes short. Brows become furrowed and everyone is one off-hand comment away from going absolutely stinking mental and turning the corridors into a graphically violent and extremely  gooey re-enactment of a scene from 28 Days Later.

‘GRR! SIR!… have you got a calculator I can borrow, please?’

The Science teachers have created man-traps in the Learning Zone hoping to snare any rogue Yr 11s who have missed crucial revision. The English department’s planning meeting has spilled over into the staff car-park after someone dared to mention ‘extra twilight sessions’. Mr Johnson is overseeing the mass buying of black pens to fit the military-style rack he’s created that are to be placed outside the gym hall in an effort to combat the mass amnesia of last year where no-one –


– thought it might be a good idea to turn up to the written test with something to write with.

I love the smell of examinations in the morning.

To survive the Non-fiction and Media paper YOU MUST BECOME THE NON-FICTION AND MEDIA PAPER!!!

True, it’s a time of abject horror that leads to increasingly bizarre behaviour as the pressure mounts but, you know what? I kind of like that. It’s awful, but within that awfulness there are teeny-tiny glimmers of grace and camaraderie rarely seen in the course of the academic year.

The common enemy seems to bring people together – students who have given me no end of grief over countless terms have turned to me, shaken my hand and said ‘thanks for everything’ before stepping through those exam hall doors to face whatever fate awaits them. The baddest of badass teachers have stilled the nerves of a fraught teenager with an off-hand joke that is so out of character, it stuns the kid into a zen-like state of calm as they watch him walk away as if nothing has happened.

Yes, there’s plenty of under-the-desk rocking and muttering. Some crumble, some fall and the casualties are huge. But we struggle through together as the world is turned on its head.

The quiet ones get loud, the loud ones get meek and none of them bring the AQA Anthology.

It doesn’t matter. Just as long as they’ve got a black pen. They’ve got a black pen, right?


Let’s dance.



  1. CristinaM.

    I absolutely LOVE your blog posts.
    Brilliant use of language, ability to convey the dynamic reality and the underground feelings within school, and, of course, the inescapable touch of hope.

    • tstarkey1212

      Thank you Cristina – there’s much that I’m not fond of in teaching but even at my most tiredly cynical I firmly believe that schools can be places of warmth and light.

      Really appreciate you taking the time to read.

  2. Carol Hedges

    Am invigilator (also blog on schools) and ex English teacher. Just discovered you and following on Twitter. This year am invigilating in cupboard thanks to Mr Gove. Sigh.

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