How can he truant without a mobile?

15th June 2007 at 01:00
Ian Roe is a pseudonym

Being a headteacher exhausts me. For the first time in my adult life I fall asleep in my armchair in the evening. There are endless consultation documents on my desk. The latest helps define "parent" and "parental responsibility". I mustn't knock it - it's someone's job.

There is also a letter from a local pressure group asking how much religious education we teach. It also wants to know what we do in assembly.

Well, to be honest, we usually harangue Year 9 for throwing litter out of windows but I suppose it doesn't pay to be honest.

A parent phones me to let me know that the school uniform is an affront to her son's individuality. Later, I notice that Ryan's defiance takes the form of white laces with black shoes.

The exams officer brings me a doctor's letter excusing Nicola from completing all coursework because she is stressed. If she were to sell this note on eBay she would make a fortune. The doctor sounds like one I should be consulting. Ryan now appears in person. He tells me that his human rights have been violated because the deputy has taken away his mobile phone. How can he contact Evan because they were planning to truant later and he won't know where to meet?

He tells me that the school is now a police state and I thank him for his observations. I agree privately that parts of it are starting to smell like a dodgy Latin American republic.

The assistant caretaker informs me that we have a plumbing crisis. There is raw sewage bubbling up in a classroom. No change there - I have been observing lessons for years. Apparently it may be connected to an electrical failure that has disabled the fire alarm system. I have already reassured the union reps. I took advice from County Hall. I say that, in the event of fire, we have to shout "Fire!" very loudly. They appear happy with this but decide it's best not to let the pupils know.

I have launched an anti-smoking drive in school. Three 11-year-olds turn up at the lunchtime clinic, anxiously looking for free patches to help them break their addiction.

Last week I excluded a boy who threatened to expose himself in a supply teacher's lesson and wave the offending object vigorously for all to see.

His mother, exercised mostly by her need to take time off work to come and see me, shouts loudly down the phone. She doesn't understand what the fuss is about. No comment.

I break free from my desk and visit a childcare class. The girls have been given interactive dolls to care for all week. The dolls cry at random moments. They are so clever that if you push them face down on the table they start to cry. Gemma illustrates this with her doll, whom she has called Chardonnay.

I reflect upon whether this is adequate preparation for motherhood. "So how do you get on in the nights, Gemma?" I ask. She replies: "I turn the bastard off."

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