The news that the Department is considering offering teachers past their use-by date a cash incentive to leave the profession has the common room all a-twitter. We wonder whether teachers who are not only incompetent but criminal to boot (paedophiles, to take the obvious example) might not attract a further bonus. The seriously dangerous teacher could do very well for himself. But just what constitutes a dud? Herewit


  1. The dud arrives at the latest possible moment and leaves at the earliest opportunity. Like a salmon swimming upstream, the dud pushes against the tide of children as he rushes to make class before the first bell. At day’s end, his head may be seen bobbing like driftwood carried downstream by the swollen surge.
  2. If a teacher’s classes resemble a human version of Barrel of Monkeys or a game of Twister, he is a dud.
  3. If a teacher has time on his hands to read the newspaper like a spy searching for a hidden microdot, he is a dud.
  4. A teacher found to be feeding uncorrected work into the paper shedder is a dud.
  5. Bulky knits in men and anything taupe worn by women mark them as a dud.
  6. In the common room, duds congregate in Dud Corner. From this redoubt they descend upon a morning tea provided by the staff association like cadaver dogs. Never get between a dud and a ribbon sandwich.
  7. Sometimes, like the dead in The Sixth Sense, duds don’t know they’re duds. The teacher who is marking time until a) his novel is accepted by a publisher b) his talent is inevitably recognised by casting agents or c) his band lands a recording contract is kidding himself that he is committed to teaching and is in actual fact a dud.
  8. The teacher of long standing who extracts for each lesson from his compendious filing cabinet curling overhead projector transparencies he constructed twenty years ago (and has never varied since) is a dud.
  9. Teachers who hate children — surprisingly their name is legion — are duds.
  10. The Department, though, will have its own criteria which go something like this: if a teacher, in working many more hours than he is contracted to do, giving up lunchtimes to tutor those who need it, made to endure conditions which make a battery hen’s life seem desirable by comparison, put up with abuse from the children and their parents and indifference from his employer, should suddenly despair, like the improving story on the old primary school reader, of Trying To Please Everybody, then he is a dud.