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  • turbulentschool

24. Errol's story

Updated: 5 days ago

In most schools, there will be a handful of teachers who know how to get the best out of pupils with acute reading and spelling issues. The important issue is how to train up the whole staff. This was our plan at Eydon Vale. We started by encouraging a small group of particularly sympathetic teachers to provide small group, literacy support. They also taught a few lessons to the Unit children in their subject specialisms and included a couple in their subject lessons. Then, next year, our plan was to widen the pool.

Spelling out these ideas had a disturbing effect on the staff, though. While they had readily accepted the need for Guided Discipline and extra exam lessons for the more able, they found special needs reform more challenging. They were unhappy did not want to resume responsibility for their more troublesome pupils. After my training session, the entire History and Geography departments, apart from Rowena Cross, had resigned.

Another of the teachers to join the group of volunteer special needs teachers was a friend of Rowena's called Elinor Aspen. As Head of Music, she had taken an important role in school plays. Over the previous couple of years, the drama teacher had left and the pupils’ keyboards had been stolen. As Eydon Vale descended into chaos, Elinor had almost lost heart.

Her initial training had never prepared her for coping for work in such a turbulent school. Following my initial Guided Discipline lecture, she redesigned her curriculum. She abandoned her old programme of study and spent more time on choral singing. This new approach made it easier to set boundaries. As order returned, so did her spirit of adventure.

She had never taught children with learning difficulties or physical disabilities before, but her Unit music lessons were an immediate success. It was more of a challenge to teach Errol Samsom, Elroy’s little brother, to read. Once the Head of the Unit had helped her master phonics and she had got him to tell his own story, though, she rediscovered what first brought her into the profession.


That was the night,

Errol’s dad came around.

It had not taken him long

to find out where they were living.

“Let me in,”

he said in his deep growly voice.

Their mum told him

to leave them alone.

“I’ve got an order,” she shouted.

“We’ll get the police.”

But this did not stop him.

Elroy’s dad punched in the glass

and opened the door.

He stood in the doorway.

He was drunk.

He was in his old yellow

and green tee shirt.

He was snorting like a bull.

There was blood

running down his arm.

It was all over his face, too.

Elroy faced up to him.

He stood on the balls of his feet

like a boxer.

His dad was taller.

Elroy had a broad chest.

But his dad was bigger.

All Elroy had to hold him off

was a stool from the kitchen.


Elroy told Errol to ring the police.

“No need for that,” said Elroy’s dad.

Errol’s dad saw red.

He attacked Errol’s mum.

Elroy kept hitting his dad

with the stool.

But it had no effect.

Errol jumped on his dad’s back.

He used to jump up like this

when he was a kid.

His dad used to give him

a piggyback.

Errol got his arm around his dad’s neck.

“Please dad,” Errol said.

But his dad was not playing now.

He wanted to get Errol off.

He bucked his head.

and banged Errol against the wall.


Elroy heard police van first.

Then he saw the blue lights.

The two PCs drew their batons.

Errol and Elroy held onto their dad.

The police got him on the ground.

The cuffs went on.

His dad was bellowing

Like a bull.

His mum kept saying,

“I’ve got an order,

I’ve got an order.”

His dad was shouting,

“You have not seen

the last of me.”

The police were saying,

“You do not have to say anything….”

Then they took their dad away.

The house went very quiet.

That was the last time

Errol saw his dad.

At midnight, the doorbell rang again.

The same woman PC was outside.

“Can I come in?” she asked.

“It’s bad news,

I’m afraid.”

She told them Errol’s dad

was dead.

The PC said he had some matches.

“He set fire to himself

in the cells.

By the time we got to him,

he was too badly burned.

He went to the hospital.

But it was too late.

He had not made it.

I’m terribly sorry.”

This is a fictional, interactive blog. My illustrators and I will be creating a new instalment twice a month over the next year. Email turbulent.school@gmail.com and I will edit my text.