At some point during the Day From Inner City State School Hell, I decided to spread the love, and invited other staff to make use of my planning period to send me their most wayward students. If I'd had an awful day so far, and I'm extremely difficult to annoy, then they may be experiencing similar levels of frustration.
It worked a little better than I thought it would, and after removing Christina from the Geography lesson where she was screaming "d***head" at the head of sixth form, and Stephanie from the corridor outside Science where she was telling the thrice degreed good doctor to "shut up" in menacing tones, I sat and talked to them about the letters of apology I wanted them to write.
Noticing that all the students I'd removed from lessons were habitual non-attenders, I asked them where they go when they're bunking. The answers were as mundane as my own schoolday attempts to truant, with the girl's smoke-filled toilets the favourite answer. (Still, at least it's segregated - at my last school the favourite 13 year old's pastime was to experiment with sex with the most woefully inadequate candidates, at the foot of the school fields.)
Asking Christina if her mother knew about her truancy revealed the most startling information, though. It seems that some days, mum has severe migraines, and she asks Christina, who is thirteen, to stay home and look after the "little ones" for her while she goes back to bed.
I was sure that Christina had told me she was the youngest child in her house. Intrigued, I asked who it was she was looking after. The answer stunned me.
Christina's mother is a registered childminder. A childminder who keeps her own daughter off school to take care of a bunch of two year olds. Some of whom are the offspring of colleagues of mine.
I asked what she did if the children were trouble, as I understand two year olds generally are. "Oh, no, they're never trouble, miss, not if you give them lots of sweets".
I was stuck for any sensible response. Why is Dickens springing to mind?