But any lasting satisfaction had been wiped out by the knowledge that he was in trouble. Big trouble. A long exclusion, maybe even a permanent one, was on the cards. His dad had been called, as had the police.

The office door open and the head appeared next to him. “Come in, Jamie.” Jamie shuffled in and stood in front of Miss Jackson’s desk. “This is serious, Jamie. You’ve stood in front of my desk far too often. I’ve got no choice but to exclude you from school.”

“Miss Jackson,” he said, “you can’t. I’ve got exams coming up and if I miss them, I won’t be able to go to college. I’m sorry, Miss Jackson.” He dropped to his knees and begged the head to give him one more chance.

She looked at him, her eyes narrowing. “I’ll go one better,” she said. “I’m going to wipe your slate clean. Consider your record blank. Now go back to class.”

Jamie couldn’t believe his ears. For some reason, he’d been forgiven! He rushed out of the office and off down the corridor. As he ran, he collided with a group of lads coming the other way. He turned and grabbed the nearest one, Sam, by the collar of his shirt.

“What do you think you’re playing at?” he roared into Sam’s surprised looking face. He threw Sam to the floor and screamed: “Are you looking for a kicking?”

He lifted his foot to start administering his own style of justice when a voice cut through his anger. It was Miss Jackson: “Jamie. My office now.”

Jamie stood in front of the head’s desk. “I cleared everything from your record, Jamie. And yet you could not forgive someone who accidentally bumped into you.” She looked down and wrote a note on Jamie’s file: “You’re excluded. Permanently.”

Discussion questions

Ask the young people these questions. Try to let the discussion flow as much as possible, without interjecting too many of your own ideas.

  • Why did the headteacher wipe Jamie’s slate clean?
  • What does this story tell you about forgiveness?
  • Have you ever been in a similar position to Jamie?
  • How easy is it to forgive others?

This story is based on Matthew 18:21-35. Read the story together and discuss Jesus’ conclusion.