A tissue of deception

11th January 2008 at 00:00
I started this new job at the end of August last year and so far haven't had a day off sick. Fortunately for me there was only one day last term when I had to force myself into school, but I'm now typing this from my bed in the Christmas holidays where I've been laid up for four days.

If this was term time I could not and should not be in. It would not be good for my health or the health of colleagues and pupils. But would it show stoicism? Or would it simply show I was a bloody fool?

The past three days I've been too ill to type but now, surrounded by duvet, tissues and Lemsip, I've managed to drag the laptop on to the bed and write. What's more, just 148 words gone and I'm beginning to feel better. The very fact that I'm producing something is a positive move; a monumental achievement after the sweat-soaked wasteland that has been my post-Christmas week.

This happens at school too. Because you're a committed teacher and didn't get into the profession for the pay and the company car, the desire to teach and support your students is often overriding. The journey into school might be full of doubt: why am I doing this, I could be metaphorically in bed with Terry Wogan or John Humphrys? But once there, the adrenalin produced by the kids can have an awakening impact. Sometimes, by the time you get to lesson three, you think: "Actually I'm not too bad, I can stick this out for the rest of the day."

There are six staff on the senior management team in our school and I could well be wrong but I don't think any of them had a day off sick last term either. There could be a few reasons for this. First, they weren't ill. Second, they came in when ill because they could handle quiet paperwork and only had to face a couple of classes all day (naive moi?). Third, maybe they were off sick but it was just kept from the rest of the unknowing staff.

This is a great plan and one I shall use if and when I join an SMT - "Genevieve isn't in today because she's at a meeting on intervention strategies". Maybe no one would ever know that the meeting was with a daytime TV presenter and that the intervention involved paracetamol, ibuprofen and a DVD.

Genevieve Lovegrove, Head of English at King Edward VII, Coalville, Leicestershire.

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