If you are not familiar with Joyce Grenfell’s monologues, then do spend a few minutes listening to this one. And even if you are, this classic called ‘Free Activity Period’ is well worth hearing again.
“Right class, now pay attention. Yes, that includes you Michael.
There’s a lovely surprise this morning – it’s been announced that you can now take Computer Science as part of the EBacc Certificate., even though we don’t have anyone who can actually teach it. Yes, I knew you’d all be pleased. Of course this won’t mean you can all go on to earn lots of money in later life writing computer programs, because IT companies now prioritise things such as creativity, flexibility, evidence of being able to work collaboratively and having a good awareness of how business works. Which I’m afraid will count you all out, but never mind.
Michael, you’re not listening are you?
Now of course as you know, here at the Russell Group Academy it’s extremely important that you all manage to achieve the EBacc Certificate, partly because we want you to go on and get a good education at a prestigious university, but mainly because our Academy needs to maintain its reputation. Why’s that, you ask? Because if we didn’t all those nice mummys and daddys might not want to continue send their darling children here, and I would lose my job, and we wouldn’t want that to happen now would we? No, we certainly wouldn’t. And also of course because if you do all get the EBacc certificate it will mean a jolly nice performance related pay-rise for me.
Michael, I won’t tell you again. What’s that Michael? No, you can’t be excused.
What was I saying? Oh yes, who has heard of the phrase ‘Hobson’s Choice’? No-one? I would have thought you might know, Michael? Well I’ll explain – it basically means having no choice at all. Now, the reason I’m telling you this is because last week all of your teachers got together – well at least the ones that are left: we were so sorry that Miss Art, Ms Drama, Mr Design and Mr Technology all had to leave, weren’t we? – and we all talked about the fact that if any of you failed just one of your six EBacc subjects it would mean that you wouldn’t get your EBacc Certificate, and our Academy would fall even lower in the league tables.
Michael, I think you had better put that in the bin, hadn’t you? No, not later, now.
Anyway, as a result we thought it important that, just in case you don’t pass some of them, it would be best if you just concentrated on the subjects that are part of the EBacc. So that means that next year you’ll be studying English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Science, History, Geography, French and German. Let’s see, that makes 11 subjects. Hmm. Oh well, it’s better to be safe than sorry isn’t it? So, that’s all jolly super as it means that next week when you hand in your EBacc subject option choices it won’t take you any time at all to fill in the pre-completed form.
What’s that Michael? You wanted to do an Arts subject, RE and PE but now there won’t be any time? Well, you should have thought about that before shouldn’t you?
No Michael. Don’t do that.”