Don't do what I did - It didn't rain, it poured on this island outing

15th May 2009 at 01:00

After a tough year in Edinburgh doing my PGCE while looking after a young family, I landed my dream job in a one-teacher primary school on a beautiful Hebridean island. The children were co-operative and eager to learn. I loved teaching them and, so far, my first year had gone smoothly.

After the harshest winter ever, the weather was glorious and it was a good time to plan a trip. We were doing a topic on trees. The island only had one tree, so I liaised with the country ranger on a neighbouring island so we could see more.

The ferry took us across the Minch on a beautiful calm morning and a couple of minibuses dropped us off at the plantation. The ranger explained the tasks and we broke off into groups. Minutes later, the day darkened and rain poured through the trees. I was with the infants. Most of them put on a brave face but were clearly miserable. One boy left his jacket behind and howled all day.

There were more tears as the day ground on, but the minibuses were away on another run so all we could do was stick it out until they arrived. Eventually, soaked to the skin, we stumbled back on to the buses. The plenary session was ditched - the worksheets were now illegible scraps of pulp - and we drove through the tempest back to the jetty. The supply teacher, who was an islander made of stern stuff, attempted to start a sing-song, but there were no takers.

It felt as if things couldn't get worse, but of course they did. On the ferry, my daughter's fingers got slammed in the toilet door. She and the "culprit" were crying as we walked up the jetty. The assembled parents were too tactful to ask if we'd had a good trip.

I still love school trips, but now my number one rule is: no matter how good your plan A is, you still need a plan B.

Deirdre Carney is a supply teacher in Highland. Send your NQT experiences to features@tes.co.uk. Each one we publish earns Pounds 50 in Mamp;S vouchers.

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