A Difficult Conversation

Outside a headteacher’s office, in a South London Academy. 

Karen: Oh, hello Geoff. Angela will be with you in five minutes. 

Geoff: I came as quickly as I could. Things started kicking off at the end of the lesson again with Jamelia Franks. That bloody child!

Karen: Oh. Jamelia. I see. Pause Could I get you a cup of tea while you’re waiting?

GeoffTea? Here twenty-six years: first time I’ve been offered tea! Is it my birthday? No, I’m alright thanks.

Karen: Well, I’m sure that Angela won’t keep you waiting much longer.

Geoff: Ok. It’s just that I’ve got Year 11 in 10 minutes…

Karen: Oh? Well, I can always phone through and ask Andy to get your lesson covered, if you like? It might be a good idea…her voice tails off. 

Geoff: No, I’m sure it’ll be ok. Angela’s usually fairly – shall we say – ‘brisk’! Pause. D’you know what she wants to see me about? It’s all a bit cloak-and-dagger this, isn’t it

Karen: Well, I can’t really… I’ll let her… Another pause. Gosh.  Twenty-six years, hey? I’m pushing fifteen myself. We’ve seen a fair few changes in this place, haven’t we Geoff? 

Geoff: That we have. Change, change, change. You can’t stand up for someone swiping the chair from underneath you. And not least over the last year or two. Bigger set sizes.  No bloody money. Still: what else can you do?  He goes quiet and listens. So is there someone else in there at the moment? With Angela, I mean?

Karen PauseLaura. Laura went in before you.

Geoff: Oh. 

They both look at the door as the sound of a stifled sob comes through. 

Karen: Listen, I’ll make that call to Andy, shall I?

Geoff: Hmm? Oh. Yes. Perhaps you should. Tell him there are some, umm, past questions in a folder on my desk that they can be getting on with. Although knowing Andy, he’ll probably want to do his own thing. Something with bloody tablets, I’ll be bound. 

Karen disappears for 30 seconds, and then returns

Karen: There. All sorted. Andy’s said he’ll cover the lesson himself. She attempts a brighter tone. You know – I bet you’ll be glad to get shot of them, won’t you? Year 11, I mean. What is it? Two more weeks after Easter?

Geoff: Something like that. Well yes. I’m always in two minds at this point. They need all the help that they can get, that lot- but there’s only so much you can do, isn’t there? Horse to water and all that.  It’s funny: you can be in this job as long as you like, but you never really stop worrying, do you?

Karen: No. Or caring.  She looks anxiously at Geoff as he watches the door. Still – Summer soon. Got any plans? 

Geoff: Well, I was thinking about Portugal again, but… He makes a vague hand gesture towards the door. 

Their words tail off as the headteacher’s door opens. A middle-aged woman emerges from within,  holding a handkerchief to her nose. She is muttering something that sounds like, “I do understand…difficult decisions…”. Another voice comes from behind the door. 

Angela: Karen? Can you send Geoff in now, please? 

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