Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Please Miss, I feel sick!

Next time you're having a bad day at work, stop and think for a moment.

Is it worse than mopping up vomit in a coach full of rowdy teenagers somewhere in the middle of Europe when you haven't slept for forty-eight hours?

There's been some media and blogger griping about the number of teachers stranded abroad this week, mostly in comments by people who obviously have no idea that a significant number of absent staff are in charge of school trips.

Imagine it - you've given up a week or more of your holiday (no extra pay for this, remember) to accompany a group of pupils abroad. Not only are you trying to ensure they have a worthwhile educational experience; you're on 24-hour call in case of emergencies and responsible for returning them to their parents with no injury, loss of baggage or little surprises in nine months' time.

And then comes the travel crisis. Suddenly your flight and relaxing Sunday night at home has been replaced with the coach journey from Hell - 29 hours of travelling with 50 overtired, stroppy travelsick teenagers (rule of thumb: if one throws up, five more will follow suit).

And since the coach drivers need overnight breaks, you and you colleagues have to spend two nights en route in grotty youth hostels, where you get no sleep because, after being cooped up in coaches all day, the pupils are ready to run riot.

And you finally arrive back, having run out of clean underwear somewhere near Rome and patience on the Munich ring road, to a barrage of criticism for your prolonged absence and the assumption that you spent your holiday sunning yourself on the Riviera.


  1. There was a telephone interview with a teacher on the radio this morning who is stranded with some pupils. In Disneyland, Florida.

    I have to say, my sympathy tanks were on fumes...

  2. JuliaM, although I still have sympathy for those stuck in unforseen exile in charge of other people's children, I appreciate the angle -
    and I'm struggling to think of any worthwhile academic reason for a school trip to Disneyland, Florida.

  3. Well yes, but it is cheaper than Shearings. But why are no school parties following Wellington's line of march in the Peninsular War? Then they could be marched back through France foraging as they go.

  4. An excellent idea, Demetrius, although the locals might have some objections.

    You'd approve, I'm sure, of an enterprising classmate of the Artful Dodger, who took part in a re-enactment of Wellington's Peninsular campaign last year then wrote it up for coursework.


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