Iesha Small

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The letter of complaint that made me laugh

Recently I received a hand-written letter of complaint. It was from some pupils in a class that I teach, they handed it to me at the end of a lesson and it was wonderful.

Working at a secondary school with teenagers is never dull. It is sometimes frustrating, often rewarding, sometimes tiring but most consistently it is funny. I laugh several times a day when I am teaching. I have slightly rude and sardonic sense of humour that seems to work well with young people, especially in the 14-18 age range. The classes that I have the best working relationships pick up on this and we appear to have mutual good natured banter (within suitable boundaries of course) whilst tackling the wonder that is maths.

Recently I was teaching one of my key stage 3 classes, and after some explanation, I put some work up in the board.  I often have different starting points that my classes can choose themselves depending on their understanding of topic and that they can move around at will or with my direction.

In this lesson I got distracted and wrote the following…

Yeah – it’s not the neatest. I’d mostly been using the interactive whiteboard.

My class pointed out that, in writing “easy, medium and large,” I had suddenly switched from levels of difficulty to sizes. Off the cuff,  I explained that maybe I’d been day dreaming about Starbucks or something.

Later in the lesson a letter was hand-delivered to my desk by a 14 year old struggling to hold a poker face. It had the following text:

“Dear Ms Small,

I would like to issue a formal complaint concerning the difficulty of the mathematical questions written on the white board on the twenty second of June two thousand and eighteen.  You seem to have changed the scale from levels of ease to levels of size and afterwards remarked you were contemplating Starbucks cup sizes. As I’m sure you have now come to realise, this caused a large amount of stress to many of the poor, innocent children in your class who have been placed in set one. I hope, in future, when deciding the difficulty of different questions, you will take into account the scale you shall use.

Your angrily,


I think this is the first letter of complaint I’ve received from a class but I’m glad I did. I’m not entirely sure if laughing out loud is the appropriate response to a letter of complaint but that’s the reaction that this one elicited.

Whatever you are up to today I hope you make space for laughter- it makes the day go by much faster.

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The letter of complaint that made me laugh