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Quantock School Discipline

Assigned Duties: Punishments or simple slave labour?

Assigned 'Duties' were a way of life at Quantock, particularly during the senior years when they made up part of the daily routine. I guess there will always be a debate over whether some of these things were duties or punishments - though what is undoubtedly clear is that by utilising the school population for this unpaid labour the school probably saved a lot of money in the process. Were it not for the fact that someone might have been poisoned as a result, Wally the cook could well have ended up being replaced by a team of fifth-formers on 'cooking duty'...

Table Duty

This rostered duty was carried out in teams of three, and the central plank of the role involved the patrolling of the dining room with a wet cloth, wiping tables after messy colleagues had finished eating. The task was sometimes made more difficult than it should have been when people "accidentally" used to spill milk or smear marmite, butter or lemon curd on the tables. Perhaps the least memorable aspect of table duty had nothing to do with tables, however - the sweeping and mopping up of the dirty floor afterwards. The only advantage with this was that one could usually escape the first part of chapel. Which was very useful if it happened to be one of Mr Warriner's monkey poster monologues.

In my days at Quantock table duty was carried out by third year pupils, although this appears to have been different both before and afterwards.

Trolley Duty

Not as time consuming as Table Duty, the main tasks of the Trolleyperson included the transportation of the food from the kitchen to the dining hall before meals, and the supervision of the waste trolleys. The latter task involved the supervision of the dirty crockery and cutlery, and the transportation of these items to those doing the washing up (see above).

Like table duty, trolley duty was rostered - and carried out in teams of two. At my time at the school the duty was assigned to fourth-year pupils.

Serving Duty

Assigned to fifth-year pupils, serving duty was just that - standing behind the counter, often alongside Mr Phil or the Head, and serving people their meals. This encapsulated a number of roles, which included doling out the correct quantity of slop, being stingy with the milk, making sure people only took two weetabix, and dumping massive spoonfuls of sugar into jubs' breakfast bowls.

Serving duty was a chore insofar in that was yet another duty, but it was an absolute doss. More importantly, it also gave one the opportunity of being stingy with the milk when serving someone you didn't like...

All three of the above duties were similar in one very evil respect in that all of those assigned to them were made to get their meals after everyone else was finished. This of course meant that these poor souls almost always found themselves having to pick the "best" of the greasy dregs that were left at the end...