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Term's just as good as holidays

Recently, when I popped into the DVD shop to rent a film, the owner smiled and said: "Nearly the end of term, then. You must be looking forward to it?" Then on to the hairdresser, who said: "Not long now. I bet you can't wait."

It's funny how everyone says the same thing to a teacher. There is an assumption that you are crawling towards the summer holiday break on your hands and knees.

In fact, I am never in a hurry for term to end. Yes, the holidays are thoroughly enjoyable, but then so is school. And I count myself fortunate in working with 350 fascinating little human beings. In my entire career, I have never had a day when I haven't felt like going to work.

But that's not to say a school year doesn't have its peaks and troughs, and this one has been no exception. We have had our usual quota of irritating officials. There was the fire officer who referred to our wonderful work displays as "hazardous wall substances" and the audit officer who found my room an annoying place because children kept coming in and showing me their work.

Then Secretary Sandra was called for jury service. Sandra has a photographic memory and can retain all those little details I would instantly forget, like Mrs Andrews paying half of Andrea's dinner money for next month because she hasn't got the whole lot just yet and could Sandra please remember that it includes money for film club and fruit but not book club because she will send that separately.

My biggest worry was that Sandra's case would turn out to be the crime of the century and she would be away for the rest of the term.

February brought huge snow drifts, frozen pipes and problems with teachers moving their cars on to the main road, let alone getting to school. And when spring arrived, we found that pigeons had been getting into the loft space through a broken grille, causing damage running into hundreds of pounds. I was relieved that the year's budget allowed just a little breathing space.

And every year something happens that causes me to say: "Well, this is a first." This year was true to form.

We spent several weeks trying to track down the phantom urinator who left little yellow puddles on the staircases, in the corridors and, on one occasion, in a sink. We didn't find him... and then it stopped as suddenly as it had started.

But the year's peaks vastly outweighed the troughs: l our orchestra and jazz group combining to learn a spirited version of 'Rock Around the Clock'; l the constant enthusiasm of my staff and their real desire that every child should do well; l the amazingly inventive models produced in our technology competition; l the pleasures of Poetry Week; l the children creating their own brilliantly colourful costumes, masks and headdresses for our spectacular carnival; l our summer musical where, on the hottest of July evenings, we packed our hall with excited parents and children; l the enjoyment of helping train a future leader and feeling instinctively that they will eventually make an excellent headteacher; and l letters from some of the secondary schools we feed, telling us that our ex-pupils are a pleasure to teach.

So, yes, I'll enjoy my summer holiday. I'll read a lot. I'll write. I'll listen to music and play my guitar and banjo. I'll go to the seaside, visit places, and have lots of time to enjoy my wife's company. But when September comes around, I shan't be sorry.

I'll be back here doing the thing I love most.

Mike Kent is headteacher at Comber Grove Primary School in Camberwell, south London. Email

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