That summer is still very clear in my mind. I was finishing my PGCE and after a final school observation returned to Oxford.
Staying at a friends house on the outskirts of Oxford no longer rented a room in the city as my time as a full-time student was coming to a close. Briefly returning to my home where I would spend a month in another school observation – the final piece of my teacher training.
It was a hot summer in ’95. The thermometer hitting at least 30ºc on one or more occasion. Coming as I do from the northeast where we don’t experience such extremities I found it unbearable. It was later on to be an omen – a dreadful indication of what lay before me. Of all the people I had to have contact with was a certain line manager. I had been offered a job in a school on the east side of Durham. Not knowing the area I thought it would be good to put in a little research first.
I knew something wasn’t quite right when she invited me round one night for a meal before the school term commenced. I knew it would be utterly impolite to not accept her invitation. I couldn’t make a bad impression right at the beginning of my teaching career as so much had been placed on the first year of teaching. ‘They’ had the ability to confirm or reject someone in the probationary period. Something I would find out later in life at complete bollocks.
I accepted and spent a soulless night chatting and providing small talk not to give away too much or to come across as someone who was unsuitable to take on responsibility. I know now it was a fishing expedition to find out exactly how I thought and ticked.
Of all the people I was lumbered with at the first experience of professional life was a horrible, gossipy, nasty piece of work, who would sell her last bean for a morsel of scandal. She was the worst of all line managers. Unprofessional and unsupportive. Someone who shouldn’t have been in a position of any responsibility.
Even after twenty-three years since that first meeting, she hasn’t changed one bit. I receded after the first year that I couldn’t go on and continue to work with her it was either it was her or me. Of all the other heads of department, I would work with she was the worst one. Why she was planted in my world I will never know.