I taught them to cook vidya4 - Flipbook - Page 11
‘Your names please boys?’
‘Gavin!’ A burly young giant towers over me.
‘Ray!’ A shorter, but no less submissive boy scowls back.
‘Tim.’ Tim short for timid? Or timorous? Hardly.
‘Len! Not doing exams, Miss. Leaving at Easter. Got a job in
me uncle’s garage.’
So Len’s not bovvered.
‘OK boys – I’ll see if you can change back. We don’t want you
doing lessons that you don’t like.’
This school was a secondary modern before it was recently
renamed a senior high but the ghost of low expectation lingers
on. Most students are entered for some sort of exam unless they
choose to leave at the end of the Easter term after they turn
sixteen. These early leavers dither aimlessly about the corridors,
desperate to sidle out of the school gates and bunk off. And quite
a few are listed on my registers.
Mr James, the deputy head says he’ll pop into the staffroom
and ask if the other teachers will take these boys back into their
classes. He returns swiftly to tell me no they’re full, and anyway,
they only teach serious students who are prepared to study. It seems
my grumbly gang can’t do subjects like Art, Woodwork, Technical
Drawing and Metalwork. But they can do Cookery. It’s easy. Just
spend lessons making jam tarts and cakes. The new teacher will take
you. She doesn’t know the kicking-out rules practised by other staff.
The next week the gang is back in the queue propping up the
wall outside my room.
‘OK all of you, come in and gather round my table with your
My pink nylon overall covers my much-too-short skirt but I’ve
morphed into The Cookery Teacher.
‘As it’s our first cooking lesson we’re using storeroom
ingredients – margarine, caster sugar, eggs and self raising flour.
And it’s all free for this lesson, but you’ll need to bring in your
own ingredients for the next lessons and leave them in my room
in your basket.’