They listen attentively and I remember what the job is really about
Another Thursday over, and what's it been like? Some target-setting, perhaps? Browsing the development plan with interested governors? Finishing a new policy document? Chatting to parents about the schoolhome contract? Yes, I'm sure that's how the DfEE sees my job, too. Reality differs...
8.10 It's pouring. A child, whose parent has long since gone to work, sits under the shed playing The Ode To Joy on her recorder. I'm struck by how beautiful it sounds. Carla's nan waits for me by the gate: Carla won't be in because her mum's waters have broken.
8.20 Dave, the premises officer, says there are problems with the downstairs staff toilet, and we'll have to call the plumber. Again. We'll need to shut the toilet for the day, Dave says.
8.22 Chat to the teaching staff on the ground floor. One has a dreadful cold, but she's in. Hurried discussion about a child not attending.
8.30 The secretary arrives, breathless. Her car died in the road. Check diary, open yesterday's post. There's a report from an LEA auditor, riddled with spelling mistakes.
9.00 The whistle blows, and the children come in happily and quietly. Most of them, anyway. Mrs Elsen and new partner appear. Peter's lip bled at break yesterday, and they want to know what happened. They want our discipline document, and a written account of the incident from the playground duty teacher.
9.30 Dave says the middle-floor toilet isn't that great either. The feed from the cistern drips. It's okay as long as you don't sit under it.
9.40 A note from Andrea's mum. What am I doing about headlice? This is the third time she's mentioned it and no one's listening. I glance at the pile of leaflets and nit combs left by the nurse and destined to go home today. I smile. Andrea's mum will think I've ordered them in answer to her letter.
10.00 ChoirI a Thursday highlight. Troy auditions again, but he's got a voice like sandpaper. He fails miserably. "I'll try again next week," he says cheerfully.
11.00 Playtie's over. Unusually problem-free, apart from Gary and Hassan arguing again. Gary's cussed Hassan's sister, and Hassan's called Gary's mum a prune. Gary's upped the stakes by cussing Hassan's entire generation, so Hassan's hit him. I administer plasters.
11.10 The architect arrives to discuss window refurbishment next term. Can they do three classrooms at a time?
11.30 My time with the nursery. I read Mick Inkpen and overact wildly. Delightful.
11.50 Holly and Effan appear, both self-assured infants. Someone's been down Holly's lunch box, Effan says, and nicked her "choclitt". I give Holly my Braeburn apple and say it tastes even nicer than chocolate. Holly's impressed and they potter off happily. I make a note about the chocolate nicker.
12.30 Lunch with the children. I look forward to my usual crisp salad, followed by an orange and yogurt. Except the lettuce hasn't arrived, or the beetroot. Or the yogurt. I see what else is on offer. I eat my orange slowly.
1.45 The man arrives to collect library book boxes. I'd forgotten to tell everyone he was coming.
2.00 Someone arrives to discuss re-cabling the computer room. I check my diary. He's supposed to be here next Thursday.
2.10 I find Emit from Reception waiting for the secretary. He's wet himself again. He's sitting on the chair that parents use.
2.20 The consultant who's helping with my personal target-setting rings. Can I send her performance data, development plans, action outlines. Should I send her Emit, too?
3.00 My assembly with the infants. My theme this term is the body, and I show them experiments demonstrating how wonderful the eye is. They listen attentively, and I remember what the job is really about. The best bits are always with the children.
3.30 The real part of the day is over. Now, and into the evening, it's the meetings, the budgeting, the policy documents, the target setting, the planning. All the things I'm far too busy to do during the dayI Mike Kent is head of Comber Grove primary, Camberwell, Londone-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org