NB: I don't think this post contains any inappropriate or offensive language. But it might.
As I pulled into the car park I saw Karl's shiny black car and breathed a sigh of relief.
I parked my filthy, pale blue, mini cooper next to it and wished I’d asked Paul Hymes for a loan of a Ferrari.
I went into reception and saw Karl sitting there suited and booted and enveloped in a dark grey, cashmere overcoat. He certainly looked the part.
“Thanks for coming, it is appreciated.” I sat down next to him and he handed me a visitors pass. It was odd seeing my name in his writing. I’d forgotten what it looked like and my stomach lurched from the memory.
“ So...Fill me in.” He said, turning toward me slightly.
I explained that Brendon had been breaking into computers, being defiant and rude as usual, playing rough shod with his mates in the hallways etc. I explained that Mr. Fothergill had put him on Governors report and this was his last chance. Karl and I both despised Mr. Fothergill. He was like a politician and loved the sound of his own voice; he was interested only in results to make him and his school look good and seemed to have very little empathy with pupils. He didn’t want Brendon in his school, that was obvious and in many respects I understood why not. Nobody needs a kid like Brendon spoiling the apple cart and going round the school like a whirling dervish. But, the school got money for supporting and including children with disabilities and it would be difficult for him to get rid of Brendon without doing it properly.
Janice Armitage appeared in reception. “They’re ready for you now.”
We followed her upstairs where we met Brendon at the top. He gave his Dad a courteous nod and Karl patted his shoulder.
“Make sure you behave in here.” I whispered as I sidled next to him.
We entered the board room, where situated around a large oval table sat Mr. Fothergill and his secretary, Mr Locks the deputy head and two ladies and a man who I surmised were ‘The Governors’. We four walked in and took our seats.
“Good afternoon.” Said Mr Fothergill. “If everyone can introduce themselves round the table for the purpose of the minutes.” Mr Fothergill looked just like Neil Tenant (present day version) from The Pet Shop Boys, sans musical personality. We went around the table saying our names out loud.
“Sophie Rhodes, Mother.” I announced hoping Karl wouldn’t do his James Bond thing and look a pillock.
“Karl Rhodes, Father.” He said. Phew, thank God.
“Brendon Rhodes, fugitive.” Said Brendon stoically. Really? Now he wants to be funny? I noticed two of the Governors smile at his reply and thanked God they had a sense of humour.
“Brendon, please remove your coat.” Demanded Mr. Fothergill.
“ I’d rather not, I’m cold.” Brendon replied.
I kicked Brendon under the table and sweetly said, “Take your coat off darling.” Whilst giving him that I-swear-to God-I’ll -kill-you-if-you-start look.
He took it off.
“Right, well I think myself, Mrs Armitage and Mr Locks will take turns in going through the issues and incidents of late from the reports and comments from staff.” Said Mr Fothergill. “ The nature of the incidents to be discussed were serious enough for me to place Brendon immediately onto Governors report. After we have highlighted the incidents both the Governors and Mr and Ms Rhodes can respond.” He looked at us all for confirmation. I wanted to stick my tongue out at him but I nodded politely. There was something about him that made me revert to child. Some teachers seemed to do that to you and make you feel really nervous and inadequate which was ridiculous. I was used to big meetings, press conferences and bullshitters and could generally hold my own in most situations but this one made me feel about 6 years old. Thankfully Karl didn’t have that problem. Nor did Brendon which WAS the problem.
Mr Locks started: Unfortunately there have been a plethora of incidents, some minor like rough play in the corridors with friends and having his phone out in school. But the few I’d like to concentrate on are these: He lifted up the report sheets. I got my pen and notebook ready to make crucial notes.
Media: Miss Brown - Brendon told me he could not log onto the school computer because he had forgotten his password. I said he would have to use paper for the lesson. He said “No, that’s antiquated can you please get my computer open.” When I refused he responded with “How long have you been teaching at this school and you still don’t know how to do that?” I asked Brendon to be quiet but he refused and persisted challenging my decision. I told him to settle or he would be asked to leave. He refused, and I said I would call for someone to remove him. He said “Fine. Make the call.” I called for Mr Fearon to remove Brendon. On the way out of the class he came over to me and said “ You have been in a bad mood with me for, let’s see, about a week now. This suggests you might have some personal issues. I don’t think you should be letting your personal issues affect your teaching of this lesson.” I found his comments of a personal nature.
Miss Harris: I entered L15 and found Brendon and another boy playing with a football. I confiscated the ball and Brendon looked at me, smiled and clicked his fingers and pointed at my face. I told him not to do that. He replied “God, you’re miserable.” I told him that was rude and he said “No, perceptive.” His comments were very personal.
“There is also the incident involving the Imperio computer system which is what has had Brendon step up to the Governors report where he shut down the whole system and tried to print a book from the internet.” He finished.
I looked around the table and one of the Governors was shaking her head.
Janice Armitage took over from there. “ Well Brendon has had some positive comments too, one from Miss Bench from French” I tried not to snigger at this and put my hand over my mouth. ‘Miss Bench from French’ the one with the stacked top shelf as it were. No doubt he behaved in THAT lesson.
“There’s also one from Design Technology...Mr Green, who says Brendon was very helpful in bringing all the woodworking tools to the classroom.” I looked over at him wondering if he’d half inched a chisel or something. Brendon had a thing for destructive tools.
“ We are working very closely with Brendon on his social interaction and what is and isn’t appropriate and have set aside a little more time in BASE to have one to one’s with him.” She finished and nodded toward Mr. Fothergill.
Mr Fothergill took a deep breath, lifting his notes and tapping them on the table to straighten them. He thanked Mr Locks and Mrs Armitage for their input before his analysis.
“Apart from the very serious incidents that we’ve just heard about there are several other minor events where Brendon is quite rough around school, play fighting with friends, which can be very intimidating for other pupils as well as staff.” He looked pointedly at Brendon.
“Because of his pertinent attitude and remarks of a personal nature to staff he has, in the space of one month, been issued with 7 detentions and an isolation. His behaviour has got to change drastically, particularly now we are in GCSE year. Abusing the schools computer system is certainly something that will not be tolerated and due to this I would like Brendon to remain on Governors report for the next 6 weeks with a review at another scheduled meeting to see if he has met with the sanctions.” He delivered, primarily to the Governors.
I looked at my half scribbled notes in my book ‘ computers’, ‘Mr. Fothergills tie - hideous’, ‘passwords’ along with mindless drawings I’d done of circles and triangles. Completely pointless and not to my usual note taking standard.
The Governors were then asked to give their thoughts. Mr Smith, the only male governor, introduced himself. He had a kind open face and I liked him before he’d even opened his mouth.
“Well, now we’ve heard some of the incidents I’d like to get an idea of how Brendon feels about them.” He smiled as he looked over at Brendon, who raised his eyes to meet his for a split second before going back to the piece of paper he’d been making into some sort of origami concoction. “And of course, from Mr and Ms Rhodes on their thoughts.” He continued. Yes. I liked him. I drew a little star next to his name on my notes.
“If you don’t mind Mr Smith..” interrupted the governor who’d been shaking her head and looking like a cantankerous shrew, “ I’d like to know why this young man here hasn’t even flinched at the mention of all these detentions, and from where I’m sitting, shown very little remorse AND has not once lifted his head up and given me or anyone else any eye contact!”