Bestworst lesson

17th November 2006 at 00:00

Nibbles, the nursery hamster must have dreaded the scheduled Ofsted inspection. He had suffered a stress-induced heart attack or topped himself because he was stiff on the sawdust when I reached school. My painstakingly laid plans had been scuppered by tragedy.

"Sad news," I announced to the children, as the inspector entered unexpectedly. "Nibbles has died. He was very old."

"Will he get alive?" queried young Jack "No. No one comes alive after they have died. They stop breathing and can't do anything any more." Sniffles were audible as I showed them the small corpse.

"We can't watch him run around any more, but we can remember the happy times he had scampering up his ladder and eating his cucumber and the carrots you grew for him in your vegetable patch."

Myah offered the shoebox she had brought a bird's nest in, as a coffin to bury him. For warmth they wrapped him in a cloth with hamster treats in case he felt peckish. These services performed, we filed reverently outside where I dug a hole in the hard soil. The coffin interred, they sang "Twinkle Little Star" in their "sweetest" voices accompanied by the inspector's respectful baritone.

They planted a petunia and painted NIBLZ on a stick to mark the spot. I wrote to the parents on black-edged paper to explain what had happened.

The inspector commended me highly for dealing in an exemplary manner with the unexpected. Mercifully Ofsted was over by the time a mangy fox performed a stealthy exhumation!


"Wash, Brush and Comb", the new elite hair salon in the nursery role-play area opened to a queue of eager clients.

No effort had been spared to equip it. Pictures of elegantly coiffed models adorned the walls. Signs had been created. Phone, appointment book and cash register were waiting.

Gowns hung on hooks while a fabulous array of plastic containers of "lotions" and "potions" had been assembled. Scrunchies, ribbons, elastic bands, combs and brushes abounded and plastic meccano pieces had been screwed together as imitation scissors. The best Pooh and Piglet tea set was available for serving drinks.

I was treated to a "purple dye" and the salon was constantly busy with satisfied customers, some even left 10p tips.

As I was congratulating myself at the end of the day on the immense success of the new play provision, I cast a proud glance towards the salon only to see a young male client encased in a Tommy Tippee stiff plastic shield bib with a tray at the bottom. Extensive areas of his scalp were white as an egg and the bib tray was filled with copious clippings of his erstwhile luxurious hair. Sweeney Todd, the chief stylist, had spurned the Meccano scissors and gone for the real McCoy.

My stomach lurched. The bald child's parents were unsurprisingly outraged and only mollified by profuse apologies and offers to pay for a remedial tidy up at the local hairdressers.

This cutting-edge experience could, by no means, be described as my finest hour Gill Tweed is a teacher

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