Sunday, 25 May 2008

SATs all folks

Chav Towers seem to be the only school left in Wales still holding SATs exams.

A couple of weeks before she is due to sit them The Teenager arrives home and adopts that casual tone that means she has done wrong and is trying to play it down.

''So, some kids yeah? hold of some SATs papers right? And they, ummm, kinda were giving them out and stuff. So yeah, I got one.''

And she tosses a Maths exam paper on the the table and shrugs to emphasise how this is not a big deal.

''So what should I,''

Just the fact that she is asking my advice rouses my suspicions further.

''Who was giving them out?''

''Just some kids.''

''What kids?''
''I dunno, some kids.''
''And where did they get them from?''
''Some other kids.''
''And where did the other kids get them from?''
''For god's sake! I don't know!

And then she pauses

''What's for tea then? I'm starving.''

Later on I attempt to get more information out of The Teenager but she is solid as a Guantanamo suspect.

''Okay, so we are going into school tomorrow morning to give the paper back''
''Yes, seriously. You need a pre-emptive strike.''
''A what?''
'' You need to get in and apologise, admit you were wrong to accept one of these papers.''
''No way. I'm not a freak, mother.''
''Tomorrow. First thing.''
''For god's sake.''
''That's what's happening.''

Then a thoughtful pause.

''Well can we at least photocopy it first?''

8.15 a.m. the next morning and I press for a last ditch confession when we are around the corner from the school.

''Just tell me now if you had anymore to do with this. Because If I go into that school and defend you and you're not innocent here, I will be really mad.''

A guilty pause. Followed by guilty eyes meandering everywhere but to meet my gaze.

''I knew it! What did you do?''
''You just stood outside? So you were the bloody lookout? Oh great. This is bloody brilliant! And now you tell me?''

I pull into Chav Towers carpark grimfaced while my very own Tony Soprano looking petrified. But her fear is not born out of what punishment she faces, but more of being spotted at school with her mother. When you go to a school for wannabee gangsters it is better to pretend you are the orphan of a crack 'ho from Compton.

Once inside and having 'fessed up, we learn that someone has already grassed. The teenager has been marked as a key member of the crime ring. Shame she was not villainously minded enough to spot the CCTV cameras apparently recording her every move.

Over the next few days we await news of punishment. The Teenager's year tutor calls my mobile on her speed dial. She says the CCTV footage confirms my daughter's part in the crime. I lament the old days when teachers had to bully confessions out of kids, rather than get them off a tape.

We are now in a different league to the spitting in the stairwell incident, or the can of coke thrown in the canteen that started the food fight. This is even worse than the alleged happy slapping-to which the teenager maintains she was not the only one filming, but was simply picked on because her videophone had more mega pixels.

The Teenager will spend a day in 'base'. Although it sounds like a nightclub, I am informed it is actually a 'solitary confinement educational unit' where the punished are made to sit alone in booths with high walls and no talking is allowed. It sounds far scarier and progressive than exclusion, where she would simply stay at home and celebrate a day off lessons with a lie-in and Jeremy Kyle.

The Teenager calls me up crying and wailing about 'base'. I am thrilled to learn there is something she is actually fearful and consider building my own 'base' in the front room. I mutter something about don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

I call the American and suggests I should tell her that if she wants to be a criminal, she should be a better one and watch out for obvious traps like CCTV.

10 days later The Teenager sits her Maths SAT paper. It is an entirely re-written one from the one she stole. 5 days after that she spends a day in 'base' and declares it 'absolutely hideous'. 7 days after that she gets her results.


So it seems that despite what my own mother told me, cheaters do sometime prosper, even if they're unsuccessful ones like my daughter.