A Confidential Matter

Posted: September 26, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

They sat around the boardroom table, starring at Mr Oakley, the Headmaster of Amersham Academy.  He stood holding a copy of the piece of paper they each had in front of them.

The Senior Leadership Team was a mixture of long-standing experience in the school to newly qualified teachers who had only been with them for a term.  This was even more highlighted with the vast variation between the two Deputy Headteachers.  Mrs Craggley, had the presence similar to a grandfather clock within the school.  Always there, reliable and precisely on time, no matter the weather and hadn’t taken a sick day since she started fifteen years ago.  Mr Marshall, the young and ‘down-with-the-kids’ type thirty year old, also a Deputy Headteacher, was appointed at the end of the last school year.

The ten members of staff, each signed the paper in-front of them and passed it to the end of the table.  Mr Oakley checked each one carefully, before placing them in a pile in front of him.

“Right, team!” he said loudly, “You have all signed the contract, which means that anything discussed in this room, during the next hour and in any future meetings regarding the confidential agenda item I call ‘TUBOS’ is not to be repeated anywhere, at anytime.  You are legally bound to never refer, discuss or replicate TUBOS in any future employment or other educational establishment.”  Mr Oakley stopped and looked at each of them in turn.

“Some of you are all new to this particular group.  Myself and Mrs Craggley, first introduced this system nearly eight years ago.  However, if it is ever discussed outside of these team members, even outside of this very room, the consequences will be severe.  Both to you and to me.  If the Department of Education were to get even a whisper of this, we would all be struck from the teaching profession.”

“Without a doubt!” Mrs Craggley emphasised, her glare working its way around the table, like a cold icy breeze on a winters evening.

“Are you all still happy to continue with this meeting, under these circumstances?”

Each one in turn nodded and agreed.

“OK, let us begin,” Mr Oakley said rubbing his hands together gleefully.  He was like a naughty school-kid about to get into so much mischief; it would make his peers blush with envy.

“What does TUBOS stand for?” he asked the audience of his staff starring back at him.  “Mrs Craggley, would you like to do the honours?” he smiled.

“Why thank you,” Mrs Craggley said getting to her feet and making her way to the front.

“TUBOS.” She spoke clearly, “stands for… Totally. Unethical. Bets. On. Students!”

“I’m still lost,” Mr Marshall said quietly.

“During the second term, of each academic year we feel we have gotten to know the students, who are in their first year of secondary school,” she looked playfully at Mr Oakley. “Well enough to make a few judgement calls anyway,” and looked back at the room.

“There are some tell-tale signs as a teacher that we recognise early on in young adults, which effectively these children are.  Most of them are twelve going on twenty.”

“When a child in the first year of secondary school develops the reputation of being the class-clown, they have the potential to grow into the biggest pain in the arse for us teachers, by the time they reach their final year!” Mr Oakley chirped.

The room mumbled with agreement.

Mrs Criggley stood “and a girl in her first year who clearly wants attention; with boys and her female peers, could lead to being an eccentric or outrageous dresser…”

“A gothic or Emo?” Mr Marshall questioned, acting out bunny ears with his fingers representing a hypothetical meaning.

“Yes, a goth, or the other extreme of having the tiniest mini skirt possible, with make-up an inch thick and even possibly pregnant before her final exam results land on her doormat,” Mrs Criggley laughed.

“Soooooooo,” Mr Oakley continued, rubbing his hands together, “this is how TUBOS works.  You each pick five of your first year students and place bets.  It could be who you think will be in trouble with the law and kicked out before they reach their exams, or pregnant!  We have to document your choices and monitor them throughout their entire school life.  That’s the easy part.” He looked to Mrs Criggley and with his hands opened up the floor to her again.

She smiled, “The second part of TUBOS is that if you are right and your prediction for said child is reality by their last year, then you get a substantial bonus in your pay packet.”

The room mumbled again and smiles could be seen on their colleague’s faces.

Mrs Criggley laughed, “We thought that would get your attention.  However, we haven’t quite finished.  There’s a catch.  Each of your five children you choose will be given to another member of the Senior Leadership team to mentor.  Their job is to try everything possible to ensure your predications don’t come true.”

“Think of it as a game” Mr Oakley laughed.

“A beautiful game”, Mrs Criggley chuckled.

“However, I must point out,” Mr Oakley said quickly, “There are limits and it’s unfortunate that we have lost one, or two members of staff along the way.”

The room fell silent.

“Again this stays strictly in this room!” Mr Oakley said sternly.  “Mr Marshall’s predecessor had very good percentage rates for winning his bets.  However, greed, stupidity, whatever you wish to call it took over.  He did not retire voluntarily,” he paused clearly finding it hard to express the right words, but disappointment was written over his face.

Mrs Criggley quickly interjected, “let’s leave it at that,” she smiled at Mr Oakley.

“Yes, lets,” he smiled.

“Shall we begin?” Mrs Criggley said, rushing to her seat to write her list.

“I’ve already got Ashleigh Morrison,” Mr Oakley chuckled, “so if you had her on your list, you’ll need to think of another.  My school, my game, my rules!” he laughed, “I just know she’s going to turn out to be a butch bi-sexual with as many piercings her ears can hold and anger issues towards male staff members!”

“You can’t say that,” Miss Patel replied, shocked and surprised.

“That’s the beauty of TUBOS Miss Patel.  We can say whatever we like,” Mr Oakley smiled.

Miss Patel gleamed with joy and began busily writing down names on her list.

  1. Oh dear, I guess the stress of teaching has got to the teachers. That would be a terrible thought if it was a reality, teachers betting on their students eh.

    I think I caught a typo for you: starring at Mr Oakley (as in so and so starring in the role of) did you mean staring?

  2. Larry Kollar says:

    My first thought was Helen’s opening words: “Oh dear.” On the other hand, the mentoring system has some merit. It identifies the potential problem students, and they get special attention from those trying to annul the prophecy (so to speak). So… unethical? Surely. Totally unethical… maybe not so much? If one of those kids gets rescued and a teacher loses the bet, is that bad for the kid?

  3. It’s an interesting game, some predicting and others trying to stop predictions, sort of a high-stakes mentoring program. Now someone just needs to save the faculty.

  4. […] A Confidential Matter by Brainhaze ~ @Brainhazewp ~ Between 500 and 1000 words ~ Slice of Life […]

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