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Poetry Pleases: A Special Class Of People

Thirty-five in the class. Thirty-five lives with just a few problems. Thirty-five beings who could change the world... Joyce Worsfold's poem has the power to change the way you think about teachers - and children.

“Thirty-five in a class
Well that’s no sweat.
When I were a lad there were forty-eight.
Aye, and we learned to write
And add up and read
Whereas nowadays they teach ‘em a load ‘o stuff they don’t even need.
Teachers nowadays ‘ave a reet cushy job
And they should just get on with it instead o’t story of sob
I mean thirty-five, I ask yer.’’

Thirty-five lives with just a few problems
Thirty-five beings who could change the world.

Jamie is one of a family of five
He has a look of permanent pain in his eyes
Dirty, aggressive, unkempt and uncared for
He often falls asleep, curled up by the door.

Julie has speech problems and squinted eyes
Mum’s on the streets and father’s inside
She has no motivation to write or to read
It’s not the kind of thing she sees adults need.

Melanie is very bright, with an amazing imagination
Her written work shows promise and enormous concentration
Her art work is superb, shows great sensitivity
There really seems no end to her creativity
But at playtime she suffers, like as not
When the others duff her up and call her a swot.

Robert is a cheery lad, a winning smile, engaging ways
He’s got enormous potential but he’d rather laze.
He’s very good at needlework, sews pockets in his vest
In which to hide the plunder he’s pinched from all the rest.

Simon is the original absent-minded professor
Thin with thick-lensed spectacles so he can see the better
His the sarcastic comment, he’s a master of wit
But very much a loner, they all think he’s a twit.

Carl is the self-styled cock of the class
Big and stylish, bold as brass
He can beat anyone at ‘owt
But is usually best at landing a clout
He’s too busy watching the others to learn
And nobody can force him, the violence burns.

Christopher is a gentle soul
His skin is translucent, his eyes black as coal
Asthmatic and nervy, never on top form
His smile lights the room, wide and warm
He hasn’t progressed much this year
He’s so often ill, he’s hardly ever here.

Simon is dyslexic, needs a lot of special work.
I spend hours planning, just for him
But I love to hear him talk
I ache for him to learn to read and write reams
To express his thoughts, his hopes, his dreams.

Stephen’s partially sighted
And David often cannot hear
Joanne is rather flighty
And Sarah often sheds a tear
A hypochondriac is Mandy
And racial problems bother Pete
And Jane, well she’s quite stable
except for the problems with her feet.

John has got a mental block
when it comes to maths
It means a lot of special work
exploring different paths.

Carl has an IQ of a hundred and thirty-three
Never still for a moment and always on at me
It’s “Miss’’ this and “Miss’’ that
“Why is this?’’ and “What is that?’’
His Mum’s under sedation because he’s hyperactive
Plays football all night says he needs to practice
His family hardly rest or sleep.
I have him five hours a day
Five days each week.

Alice was badly burned when she was three
And will not get undressed when we do PE
It’s made her very nervy and ultra-sensitive
We have to help her find a positive way to live.

Karen is a “child at risk’’, and often bears the scars
She’s always falling down the stairs, she says
Wish Dad was behind bars.

Daley’s Mum’s an alcoholic
He’s quiet and withdrawn
Sarah’s Mum’s in hospital, having given birth to Dawn
Sarah’s very jealous, needs a bit of extra loving care
I must try to remember and help her to share.

Well, I’ve only got to twenty-one and I expect you’re rather bored
So I’ll just finish marking Sats and see how they have scored.

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