What Is It?
Muck Up Day is the term1 for your very last day of school ever. Under the current English education system this means it will either be at the end of Year 11/Fifth Form (ages 15-16) or at the end of Year 13/Upper Sixth Form (ages 17-18). Pupils in Year 11 will be about to take their GCSE exams, whilst Upper Sixth Formers will be about to take their A2 exams (see: Advanced Subsidiary). This means that Muck Up Day will usually occur on the last day before pupils begin their study leave2.
The day is probably more notorious for the actions of Year 11 leavers, as they are at an age when they will typically be more inclined to cause criminal damage and maliciously target individual teachers and anyone else who gets in the way. Having said that, the day is generally much more important for Sixth Formers, as it often signals the end of seven years at the same school - their next experience of education will probably be a university of some sort3.
Students tend to view Muck Up Day as a rite of passage, where they are almost obliged to cause disruption and embarassment to the establishment. Schools take a less understanding view. Many schools will remove study leave from students who go too far, and some students may be expelled4 or even face criminal charges. This only serves to make Muck Up Day an even better challenge for compulsive pranksters!
How Do I Take Part!?
The real challenge on Muck Up Day is to come up with a stunt or prank that fulfils the following requirements:
- Scale - it must be on a large enough scale to cause the school some embarassment, and hopefully become part of school legend.
- Punishment - you must avoid serious punishment, as your future is at stake. Do not cause permanent damage to school property (i.e. apart from a bit of harmless trespassing, you can't do anything too criminal). If you are going to do something particularly offensive, then make sure nobody knows it was you.
- Originality - it must be original and creative. You're not going to become a school hero for spraypainting "MR SMITH IS GAY" on a toilet door.
- Secrecy - a good Muck Up Day stunt should be organised on a need to know basis. Teachers are good at keeping their ears to the ground and it's more impressive anyway if people aren't expecting it.
My own Muck Up Day is May 9, 2003. At the time of writing, that is 10 days away. I would love to tell you what I and my crew of pranksters have planned, but such information is classified5. I can, however, provide you with some tales of clever Muck Up Day stunts from previous years at both my school and schools in the surrounding area.
The Infamous Assembly Ambush
This is, and probably will remain, the most legendary stunt at my school. It occured in the mid '80s, when the IRA were quite active in the UK. It also resulted in the expulsion of all pupils involved, and even made headlines in the national press6!
To set the scene, my school is an all-boys' grammar school which has a Combined Cadet Force (i.e. a silly organisation where boys can run around in silly uniforms carrying silly "rifles" and be bossed around by even sillier teachers who still haven't grown out of such childish pursuits). Over the road from my school is an all-girls' grammar school.
Essentially, the boys dressed up in their CCF combat outfits (with additional balaclavas) and stole rifles from the school armoury, before heading over to the girls' school. The whole of the girls' school were gathered in a hall for morning assembly. Little did they expect an ambush from an armed terrorist group, who then took them all hostage.
Scale: 5/5 - this one is a local classic.
Punishment: 1/5 - they get 1 because they at least managed to avoid criminal charges7.
Originality: 4/5 - this kind of prank has probably been done before, but the way they set about it and the bottle they showed to actually go through with it deserves a 4.
Secrecy: 5/5 - the girls really believed they were being taken hostage!
The Floating Porn Star
This was a more low-key stunt, but is nonetheless quite clever. It occurred at a school a few miles from mine. A lifesize sex doll was inflated with helium and released in a large school hall before morning assembly8. It wasn't until the whole school had gathered, and the assembly begun that people started to look up to the ceiling and see the glorious full frontal floating masterpiece. Quite how the teachers removed the doll from the hall I do not know.
Scale: 2/5 - fairly impressive, but it didn't require a great deal of forethought or skill.
Punishment: 5/5 - the teachers saw the funny side and the pupils went unpunished.
Originality: 3/5 - assembly pranks such as this are quite common, but the helium-filled sex doll was a clever idea.
Secrecy: ?/5 - probably not that much secrecy was required, but I can't say for sure.
The Penis on the Lawn
This is a more recent stunt in my school's illustrious history of rude pranks. Two students sneaked into school at night and used herbicide to draw the outline of a very large penis on the front lawn of the school.
Scale: 3/5 - this must have required some planning, but, at the end of the day, anyone can stick a bit of herbicide on a lawn.
Punishment: 3/5 - the pupils owned up when the headmaster threatened to remove everyone's study leave until the culprits came forward. They were kept in isolation 7 hours a day, for 2 weeks, but were still allowed to take their exams at the school. Not bad going.
Originality: 2/5 - the actual method was quite original, but "drawing giant penises" is almost synonymous with "boys' secondary education". An old favourite.
Secrecy: 5/5 - they managed to keep their identities secret until they were forced to reveal themselves for conscientious reasons.
In conclusion, I suppose the message is to have fun on your Muck Up Day if it hasn't already happened. Enjoy wearing stupid clothes, having water fights, and so on. But if you want to make the day memorable, you'd better come up with something good... and try not to let one stunt mess up your future, eh?
1 The term is originally Australian and was probably imported to the UK through popular Australian soaps such as Neighbours.
2 Mortice notes that some schools do not have study leave, so Muck Up Day is usually the last day of exams.
3 This includes the University of Life.
4 This might sound like a rather pointless punishment for someone who is about to leave. Bear in mind, though, that pupils will still have exams to sit, and expulsion may mean that they are forced to sit their exams elsewhere. Schools will also inform any universities that the pupils may be hoping to attend of the expulsion.
5 If I have a time, I might add my own Muck Up Day exploits to the write up after the date.
6 If you can really call the Sunday People the national press.
7 School cadet forces are supplied by the Ministry of Defence. Had they have found out about the theft of the rifles, they would have almost certainly insisted that charges be pressed. The pupils were incredibly lucky to avoid charges, considering the number of offences committed.
8 Assemblies are popular with Muck Up Day pranksters because the whole school is gathered in one place to see the stunt. Unfortunately, some humourless headteachers have started to cotton on to this and have stopped having assemblies in the week leading up to Muck Up Day.