The final count down

Monday June 5

S13 classes move on to their new timetable today. S4 and S5 cannot move until their exams finish next Monday. We have been successful in the past at getting a lot of work done in June but we wonder if the shorter time now available will affect attendance and work.

I ask Kirsty how she got on with her office and information studies Foundation exam. "It was easy, I finished it in 15 minutes and sat doing nothing for the last half hour," she replies. I wonder if this is good or bad.

I ask David how he got on with his Higher geography. "It wasn't easy, but it was OK." That is a more encouraging response.

The change in the weather produces numerous complaints about the temperature, especially in the wing with underfloor, off-peak heating. This heating has been off for about three weeks without problem. Elaine claims she has icicles dripping from her nose.

Tuesday June 6

Another morning of seating confusions. Victoria R223, seat 14, is in hospital, Willie R224, seat 14, goes into the wrong room and sits down. One invigilator is happy that her numbers are correct; the invigilator next door tells Iain, our assistant head, that Willie is missing.

Willie's gran is telephoned and she thinks he could be playing golf and agrees to go for him. He is not at the golf course. He is recorded as an absentee. For the second paper, Willie enters the correct room, the error is discovered and a very worried gran is contacted.

Problem with the music exam. Two students are not listed. We are one paper and one tape short. Fortunately, the emergency pack is available; Joyce, our chief invigilator, opens it with glee and the exam proceeds.

Wednesday June 7

Joyce is less than happy with the departmental organisation for one of the exams. "Now I know why you shouldn't use the words Murray and administration in the samesentence!" Ten minutes before the German listening exam, workmen arrive with a specialist lift vehicle that has a loud diesel engine to drill pieces of decaying concrete from our window surrounds. They are quite happy to stop and sit in their van until the end of the exam.

Thursday June 8

S12 sports is cancelled due to the rain.

Friday June 9

The end is nigh. Only business management, drama and German writing on Monday.

On the whole things have gone fairly smoothly. The SQA has been creaking at the seams and yet every telephone call is answered politely and accurately. The spirit of the exam board lives on. I am sure the teething problems will be ironed out for next year and we can return to the full efficiency we have grown to expect from the SQA exam base at Dalkeith.

Our attendance has been excellent: 47 exams have been missed due to certificated illness, 14 because the candidate was working and only one because the candidate simply failed to appear. There were 3,620 separate presentations. No doubt the Scottish Executive will now produce targets for exam attendance.

The new timetable for seniors starts on Wednesday and we intend to have a full 13 days of new work completed before the summer break. Only a leavers' ceremony, four awards ceremonies, a parents' evening, a P7 visit, a ceilidh, an induction day, a sports day, two county sports days, a maths competition, a public speaking competition, four attendance certificates presentations, a European awareness day, a visit to Alton Towers, a staff barbecue, two attendance councils, three staff presentations and four school show nights before then.

PS The kittens rescued from the coal are being fed by a teacher and when they are old enough they will be taken to the local cat refuge.

The writer is headteacher at Kilsyth Academy, North Lanarkshire

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