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Can't stop, we've got the builders in

I was called entrepreneurial by someone once. I was chuffed. After all, it means I am succeeding in the market-driven school system I have come to know and have survived in for the past 11 years as head. I am less thrilled to be linked to any self-seeking elements of entrepreneurialism, but will gloss over that.

So imagine my delight when our hard-fought campaign for a children's centre bore fruit last year. We had the nursery, the extended school, and now thought there would be lots of opportunities for multi-agency working and greater understanding and closer relationships with a children's centre. It seemed a natural and exciting progression.

For a year we had been virtual. We had waited for all the elements to fall into place. We had to find more money. We had to employ people for jobs that were going to develop. We had to think about funding, contracts and the role of governors. Who is in charge? What about my accountability? Still an unresolved and tricky point. Does anyone know?

We had to move our before- and after-school facilities, so we had to redesign the ICT suites and go wireless. The community room had to double up with the hall, and who knows where we will put the library.

Now the builders are in. The playground is being dug up. Parents with buggies do their best to put a brave face on it as they make their tortuous way to various parts of the school along narrow walkways.

There is nowhere to park and the alleyway we have just acquired is not quite finished as the green, sustainable play haven it was intended to be. This means that, unfortunately, we are squashed into a smaller play space than intended. They tell me it is all a short-term inconvenience, but it wasn't meant to be like this. It was all so well planned by our Green Club.

I walk around appeasing everyone with a perpetually fixed smile on my face, saying things like: "It's all worth it for the community," through gritted teeth.

Still, it is true that there are lots of exciting, creative opportunities for the curriculum.

The research group can interview parents about the effects on our local community. The builders would love to take time out of their schedule to discuss their role with our children for our World of Work focus week, wouldn't they? We can promote speaking and listening, writing, maths in the real world, our Green Club's sustainability plans in action - the opportunities for creativity and enjoyment are endless. Oh look, another hole has appeared in the playground. Get the digi cameras for the Cherry Orchard reporters.

Sue Robinson, Headteacher, Cherry Orchard School in Handsworth, Birmingham.

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