Arthur lay in the mud and squelched at Mr Prosser of the College of Teaching.
“I’m afraid you’re going to have to accept it,” said Mr Prosser gripping his fur hat and rolling it round the top of his head, “this College of Teaching has got to be built and it’s going to be built!”
“You haven’t had much support from teachers yet,” said Arthur, “why’s it going to be built?”
Mr Prosser shook his finger at him for a bit, then stopped and put it away again.
“What do you mean, why’s it got to be built?” he said. “It’s a College of Teaching. You’ve got to build a College of Teaching.” He shifted his weight from foot to foot, but it was equally uncomfortable on each.
After a moment, he said: “You were quite entitled to make any suggestions or protests at the appropriate time you know.”
“Appropriate time?” hooted Arthur. “Appropriate time? The first I knew about it was when my membership form arrived at my school. I asked if I had to join and was told it was in my ‘best interests’. He didn’t tell me I had to of course. Oh no. But the suggestion was that if I didn’t, it would be bad for me.”
“But Mr Dent, we’ve had consultation meetings for months – we’ve invited all teachers to attend them.”
“Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight online to find one of these meetings. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to make them accessible to teachers had you? I mean like actually holding them on a day when they can attend or anything.”
“But we had a public meeting to discuss membership on May 4th 2016…”
“A public meeting? I had to go down to the cellar to find it.”
“That’s where we house our public-facing department.”
“With a torch.”
“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the meeting didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.”
“But you still found it?”
“Yes, but full-time classroom teachers didn’t. You know – the people you keep saying that this College of Teaching is for. They didn’t go because you held that meeting on a school day.”
“In the afternoon! It was from 2pm until 5pm. Teachers could have come after school and caught the end…”
“Teachers don’t finish work at 3pm! You should probably know that. Besides, you held it at the beginning of May during the week leading up to the SATs, so most Primary teachers were busy. It’s probably the busiest and most stressful time of the year for Primary teachers.”
“But there are more Secondary teachers who could have…”
“The beginning of May is also the start of the GCSE exams. Secondary teachers were also far too busy to attend. You would have thought an organisation that claims to be in the interests of teachers would be well aware of this.”
“Teachers could have taken an afternoon off for it.”
“No teacher is taking an afternoon off at the beginning of May. In fact, if you wanted to hold a meeting that perfectly excluded the majority of teachers in the UK, holding it during school hours on a school day at the beginning of May is probably the most precise moment you could hold it. Which is why these meetings are full of educationalists, consultants and people who stand to profit if they can get a wedge of the College of Teaching pie.”
A cloud passed overhead. It cast a shadow over Arthur Dent as he lay propped up on his elbow. Mr Prosser frowned. “And this is why you need a College of Teaching…” he said.
“Oh shut up,” said Arthur Dent. “Shut up and go away, and take your bloody College with you. You haven’t got a leg to stand on and you know it.”
Mr Prosser’s mouth opened and closed a couple of times while his mind was for a moment filled with inexplicable but terribly attractive visions of Arthur Dent sobbing his way through a 24-hour marathon of Brain Gym activities. Mr Prosser was often bothered with visions like these and they made him feel very nervous. He stuttered for a moment and then pulled himself together.
“Mr Dent,” he said.
“Hello? Yes?” said Arthur.
“Some factual information for you. Have you any idea how much damage the College of Teaching would suffer if you teachers didn’t support it.”
“How much?” said Arthur.
“None at all,” said Mr Prosser, “We’ll just go ahead with our plans anyway.”