Creative perspiration

16th December 2005 at 00:00
Charged with freeing up his teachers, one head finds a way to cover lessons and lose weight. One of his staff explains

The music was booming out from the hall that Friday morning - "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 now bounce forward".

Year 4 were cavorting around the large open space as only eight and nine-year-olds can. The less active were on the periphery hoping no one would notice them. Lifting a leg occasionally but never breaking into a sweat, they are masters at the art of looking active.

However, in the centre of all this activity was an unusual, rather incongruous figure: a new boy in Year 4's PE lesson. He was not trying to opt out or stand on the sidelines shouting instructions. Our headteacher was taking this PE class.

Dressed in smart shirt, tie and suit trousers, his only concession to physical activity were the very snazzy trainers he was wearing. I don't think that white, chav trainers really suit a head, dressed for a meeting with the governors, but at that moment his enthusiasm outweighed any reservations he might have had about being there.

Small beads of sweat trickled down his greying sideburns and with shades of David Brent (the only other man in a suit I've seen dance like this) he was puffing and panting harder than any of the children.

Planning and preparation time is a challenge for most schools at the moment, and this is how our head has coped with it. Like most heads, he had a nightmare scenario of using "supply" at great cost to the school, or press-ganging his learning support assistants into classes and using cheap labour.

His alternative was to be creative. He decided to take each class teacher's PE lesson (whenever his timetable allowed).

Often PE is followed by music, taken by our resident music teacher, so this creative thinking has freed up two consecutive lessons for PPA time for some of our harassed teachers.

Our head can frequently be seen dancing the light fantastic with enthusiastic children who now see their head in a whole new light; and he hopes to lose half a stone by Christmas!

The writer is a teaching assistant in Buckinghamshire. She wants to remain anonymous

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