I once had this lovely Y10 class in which there were lots of complaints about a particular boy. A group of girls, individually, would ask – on a weekly basis – if they could be moved away from him. They complained that he whispered all sorts of weird things to them, that he stole their pencil cases and that he kept winking at them. Even the poor twin-sisters who could barely speak English had managed to conjure up the sentence ‘He is very irritating.’ Unfortunately for them the class of 32 students had 32 seats – there wasn’t really anywhere I could move either him or them without more inconvenience.

Now, knowing this boy reasonably well I think that he genuinely did not mean to be annoying or upsetting. He was very bright and I wonder if he found conversation in his year rather limiting: I think he lacked intellectual stimulation, which is why he liked history so much, but also why his humour was so off the wall: he was seeking an outlet.

But, there comes a point where you do have wonder what’s going on. I once witnessed him pretending to propose to one of the girls, kneeling with a piece of taped together yellow-paper as a ring. He even started taking the girls’ coats and innocuously sporting them whilst the rest of the class, sat in front of him, obliviously carried on regardless.

The moment when I finally stepped in came after a girl approached me at the end of a lesson. ‘Sir, please. I have to move. He is so weird.’

‘What’s he done today?’

‘He keeps whispering, in a gravelly voice, “Lydia, call me daddy. Call me dadddddddyyyyy.” I can’t deal with it.’

That’s right. In his best Ray Winstone voice he, this Y10 boy, was asking a girl to call him daddy. And I cannot get it out of my head.

When I then told him that it had to stop, that he really couldn’t go around asking other girls to call him daddy, especially in that hoarse, Essex accent, he responded with, ‘Sir, for you: anything.’ And with that he feigned zipping his lips shut and left.

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