Sunday, 14 April 2013

Jane Beaton - Rules and Class

I keep hoping that we'll see another instalment of Jane Beaton's Class series, but think that too much time has passed since the first two for that to happen. It may be that there aren't any more or that she's moved publisher. I simply don't know. Having re-read both earlier in the week I do know that Class and Rules are a fun pair to read and promised for an entertaining series. I thought that six were planned.

Jane Beaton's a great fan of vintage and modern school stories and this is clearly reflected in her character names: Prosser (Kingscote scholarship, Antonia Forest), Trebizon-Woods (Anne Digby), Simone (Chalet School, Brent-Dyer) and setting her books in a Cornish school complete with hockey fields and castle-looks (Enid Blyton).

Maggie Adair applies for the job of English mistress at Downey House on a whim and is astonished to find she is offered the job. Her long-term unambitious boyfriend is even more surprised that she accepts. She's from the state sector in Glasgow and Cornwall's private sector is as much of a shock as a pleasure. There's a quick mention of 'lesson-planning' where Maggie realises that she can teach for the full period and doesn't need to set time aside for breaking up fights. She's very much the inspirational teacher and one getting to grips with responsibilities: to her pupils, her colleagues and herself.

Both books do a very good job of showing how isolating teaching can be, how rewarding and how draining. Daft pranks have their place as well as some skillful work at showing the unkindness of a single-sex environment from the pupils' perspective. Perhaps it's exaggerating to say 'bullying', though there's plenty of low-level nastiness from the villain.

(Apologies for any odd spelling above that I may have missed. One English dictionary on one piece of software is fighting the American dictionary on another). 

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