The end is (nearly) nigh;The Sweeney;School Management

25th June 1999 at 01:00
A couple of jobs remain at Holy Rood before the Sweeneys can head off for the Costa del Sol. We have 14 - yes, 14 - sets of interviews to be completed and a two-day induction session for the new intake, followed by their parents' evening. Two long-serving members of staff are retiring, and the final school board meeting of the year will be followed by a celebratory social event. We will also welcome church representatives, who will join us for an afternoon to review the year.

The pupils have already marked the end of the session by displaying their musical and dancing skills. The school's young musician of the year competition produced a full house, while the dance show was a remarkable display of energy and versatility. The 32 beautifully choreographed items included disco, tap, highland and Irish.

On stage, the painfully shy stood next to the unrestrainably extrovert - the assiduous students alongside the ne'er-do-wells. Several times, I peered into the dazzling lights and wondered: "That's surely not Janine." It was a vivid demonstration of the power of motivation.

The end of the session will allow us to give the school buildings a facelift, invigorating them for the challenge of another school year. The floor tiles in the dining areas have been smoothed to annihilation by generations of hungry Holy Rooders queuing for their daily bread. We also need to have another go at eliminating the pigeons, which have defied the best efforts of countless pest controllers. They have installed every conceivable device to stop the birds nesting in the eaves of the building.

Staff and pupils have already moved up a year and shifted up a gear with the start of the new timetable. The new third year are keenly embarking on their new subject options, while the new fifth and sixth can swagger a little as they contemplate their longed-for insulation from the masses, provided by the exclusivity of the senior house.

Notwithstanding the interviews, pigeons and timetables, the Sweeneys, accompanied by the Quinns and their two boys, will be sipping sangria at the southern edge of Europe on the evening of the last day of term, with the seriously threatened long summer holidays stretching ahead. One young Quinn is a computer buff, while the other is a martial artist, which may not be a recipe for total peace and tranquillity.

The last time we shared a holiday with the Quinns, we had arranged to fly to Florida on the last day of term. Brother-in-law Jim Quinn, also an Edinburgh teacher, could not resist the temptation to display his silky soccer skills in a match against the sixth-year girls. This fit of vanity left him needing an operation and several days in hospital while the rest of us flew across the Atlantic. Jim finally caught up with us, but had to be pushed around theme parks and nature reserves in a wheelchair for the entire holiday. To avoid the possibility of a one-woman lynching, Jim's wife, Catherine, was given an alternative version of the cause of injury, in which Jim was the gallant victim of an offer to help a hard-pressed female colleague shift equipment. Catherine has never been allowed to know the real cause of the disaster that blighted her holiday. She knows now.

Pat Sweeney is headteacher of Holy Rood High School, EdinburghThe Sweeney will return at the beginning of next term

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today