Mr Matthews looked down at the report sheet that had landed   on his desk. There were only two names on it: one he was all too familiar with and one he had never come across before.

He began to read silently: “Tonya Taylor punched a fellow student in the stomach and then swore loudly at a lunchtime supervisor before putting her foot through the door to the toilets. She lashed out at Mrs Miggins when she tried to help Tonya get her foot out of the door. And finally, when she was free, she ran straight into a group of Year 7s, knocking many of them to the floor.”

Oh, Tonya. Why is it always you? He opened her file on his computer and scanned through the many phone calls he had already made to her stepdad this term. There were nine, and the term was only three weeks old. He quite liked being in charge of behaviour management at Manchesterford High School, but kids like Tonya made his heart sink. Perhaps it was time to take a new approach.

He read the other entry on the report sheet with interest. “Jeremiah Jones was caught sending a message on his phone. When challenged, he refused to say what he was doing or to apologise.”

He had never heard of Jeremiah before. And if he had never heard of a student it meant that he or she was generally well-be- haved, or at least hadn’t done anything bad enough to be included on his report sheet.

Mr Matthews checked the timetable and discovered that Tonya and Jeremiah were in the same class at that moment. He made   his way over to the science block and knocked on the chemistry  lab door.

“Sorry, Miss Faraday. Can I borrow Tonya and Jeremiah for ten minutes?”

There was little surprise from the other Year 11s that Mr Matthews had come for Tonya, but there were a few raised eyebrows when Jeremiah’s name was called out.

Back in his office, he looked at Tonya and Jeremiah. Tonya stared back at him defiantly, while Jeremiah’s eyes were firmly on the floor. An idea formed in Mr Matthews’ mind.

“Right, I know what you’ve both done, but this time, I’m going to say no more about it. Go on, back to chemistry.”

  • Was Mr Matthews right to let Tonya and Jeremiah off without punishment? Why or why not?
  • Who would have been more grateful? Why?
  • Do you think Mr Matthews’ tactic would have worked?
  • Have you ever been let off for something big you had done? How did you feel?
  • Can you see yourself in the story?


This story is based on Luke 7:36-50 and the parable Jesus told within it (verses 41-43). Read this passage to the group and compare Jesus’ story and words to this one. Discuss what Jesus might have been saying through his parable, encouraging the group to think about it in a new way.

ALEX TAYLOR is resources editor for Premier Youth and Children’s Work