20 September 2011


When you're a teacher, you sometimes wonder what the children in front of you will become. A bestselling novelist? A sport-star of international renown? A national politician? Or perhaps something more humble and unsung - a loving parent, a carpenter, a nursery nurse? I guess somebody once taught our Olympic rowers, our parliamentarians, our film directors but me - well I taught these young men:-

C,D,E & F
The first mixed race lad who I will call A to avoid connection by search engine is currently serving ten years in prison for killing the boy B on his left after a house party on a North Sheffield council estate went wrong. B was pursued by a pack of bloodthirsty yobs who accused him of taking a computer game without consent.

Months later, the gang of four from left to right - C, D, E and F attended a social soiree at the notorious Empire Club - you know the sort of thing - a cultured evening with lively discussion and a couple of bottles of Chilean Merlot. When they exited, they spotted A's older brother A2. Allegedly, since A's imprisonment, A2 had been throwing his weight around on the estate, seeking revenge for his brother's incarceration.

A2 was left unconscious in the street but CCTV footage had recorded the vicious assault. Very soon C,D,E and F were arrested, each of them later sentenced to two years in jail. As F was led away, he yelled at the police that it was their fault. If they had done their job and nailed A2, he would not be going to prison. That was F all over. A horrid, lazy student who never accepted responsibility for his wrong doing. Accidentally, the letter F is most appropriate for him.

When the police visited C's house, they found some drugs and a handgun which increased his sentence considerably. Rumour has it that he was actually the one who stabbed B to death in the first place. To tell you the truth, at school C was a much pleasanter lad than F. And I recall A's first day at my last school. His mother brought him into the "duty room" where I was supervising kids who'd been booted out of their lessons. She said we'd have no trouble with A - he was brighter and better behaved than A2 - but I was already noting his sneering dark eyes and wondering why he'd just been expelled from his first secondary school at the age of twelve.

I wonder if A,C,D,E and F will in the future attend a school reunion - perhaps ten years further on. Swapping photos and stories, delighting in memories of the "best days of their lives". Doubt it somehow.


  1. It is an interesting point, seeing what becomes of your little charges.

    A friend of ours is a retired teacher and a lad she taught throughout secondary school who today was sentenced to six years in prison for attempting to recruit Taliban fighters on Longsight market.

    A 'lovely lad' she thought him 13 years ago.

  2. I wish teachers COULD follow up on their students. It might help give them insight into what kind of adults their students will become. Some of the young people who are Bob's friends had trouble in school, but they always were hard workers, polite, and capable kids outside of school, and that's how they've grown. I think some of their old teachers would be amazed.

  3. Oh dear, it's so depressing to see that line up. However, there are also many other past pupils who will have done well in their lives and are a testament to the time and energy invested in them by their teachers. You can't win 'em all!

  4. you are a teacher
    not a miracle worker

    Mr Chips

  5. Looks like they will be holding their school reunion in another place.

  6. Please email me, can't recognise who is who from that line up.

    Recognise A and 2 of the 4, but who were the rest?

  7. I guess you don't stand a chance with some kids.

  8. If only you had made them memorise Richard Lovelace's "To Althea, From Prison" or a bit of John Donne whilst they were in your charge, things would have turned out differently.

    Dream on.

  9. Oh YP, it must have been so de-moralising for you to learn of these incidences, as with the murder of the young girl who had turned to prostitution, that you mentioned earlier in the year. I'm so sorry that what was a vocational profession for you appears to have brought you so much heartache and stress. Concentrate on those that you were able to come alongside and help. Good teachers are precious whether they come along in school-life or later and those whom you did help will remember you forever. x

  10. Yes, I bet I've taught a few who are currently at Her Majesty's Pleasure too. I didn't dislike many that I taught - - so the ones I DID dislike have stuck in my mind, such as the weaselly little lad whose weekend hobby was taking a razor blade to football matches inside an orange. So sad to see stories like this.


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