Suddenly there was a phone call from Reception. Ms.Krantz said, “I wonder who that can be. It can’t be the OFSTED inspector, because he came last week and put us into Special Measures. And it can’t be the Educational Equipment Suppliers, because we haven’t got any money to buy anything. And it can’t be the Headteacher because she’s away at one of the other three schools she’s managing under the Academic Trust Rainbow Partnership Umbrella. We’d better go to Reception and see.”
At Reception, Sophie opened the door, and there was a big, furry, stripy tiger. The tiger said, “Excuse me, but I’m very grumpy. Do you think I could come and take my bad mood out on your school?”
Ms.Krantz said, “Why not? Ever other bugger’s had a go.” So the tiger went on a learning walk with Sophie and Ms.Krantz, all the way back to Ms.Krantz’s classroom, where he sat down at the PC.
Ms.Krantz said, “Look over my emails, why don’t you?”
But the tiger didn’t do irony. And he didn’t just read one email. He read ALL of the emails and started to make changes to them. First he removed all the greetings at the start. Then he took every angry or negative word and made it even more angry and negative by writing it in capitals and underlining it. Then he marked each email with a big red ‘High Importance’ exclamation mark, and scheduled them to be sent to recipients at anti-social hours over the weekend. Finally he CCd the headteacher and all the governors in.
And he still looked grumpy, so Sophie suggested he added an impossible deadline to the end of each email. But again the tiger didn’t add just one deadline. He added lots and lots of deadlines – and sometimes added deadlines to meet deadlines until ALL the dates in the calendar were eaten up.
So Ms.Krantz said, “Surely, there’s more you can do to make our lives more difficult?” And the tiger went up to the notice board and scheduled all the report deadlines so that they came at the most stressful times of the year. And he made notices for extra after-school / holiday SATs revision sessions for the following year- just to keep Ms. Krantz and her team on their toes.
The tiger went into the staff kitchen and drank all the tepid coffee from the unwashed coffee mugs, licked out the recycled take-away cartons and stole the few remaining teaspoons. And then, for good measure, he ate all the whiteboard markers, drawing pins and glue-sticks. Finally, he went into the playground and did a giant tiger poop in the sandpit before wiping his big, furry, stripy bottom with the DfE 2017 Teacher Workload Survey that he’d taken from the notice board.
“Thank you for my nice day,” the tiger said. “I think, I’d better go now.” And he went.
Ms.Krantz said, “Well that’s bloody great. Staff morale is already at rock bottom and now we’ve got nothing left to protect teachers’ well-being. The tiger’s taken every last drop of it.”
And Sophie found she couldn’t look forward to her Year 6 Leavers’ Fairy-Princess-Glitter-Prom because the teacher organising it had said “it was all doing her bloody nut in”, so she was taking time off with stress-related sciatica.
Just then Mrs.Smith, the headteacher, got back. So Sophie and Ms. Krantz told her what had happened, and how the tiger had sucked all the joy out of the place. And Mrs.Smith said, “I know what we’ll do. I’ve got a very good idea. I’ve been on a Mindfulness and Wellbeing Course. We’ll all put on our coats and go to the pub.”
So they went out in the dark, and, due to continued austerity measures, half the street lamps were lit and half the shops were closed down. And they walked down the road to a pub.
Ms.Krantz had a tequila slammer, Mrs.Smith had a pint of Stella with a whisky chaser, and Sophie had a Fruit Shoot and a packet of smokey-bacon crisps.
In the morning, Ms. Krantz went shopping at the Educational Equipment Suppliers to buy lots of brightly-coloured cushions and jazzy posters to cheer the school up again. And she and Mrs.Smith sat down and wrote a policy promoting and protecting the health and well-being of the rest of the staff – just case the tiger should come to school again.
Which he did quite often.
*with grovelling apologies and humble thanks to Judith Kerr