Thank God it's Friday

10th July 1998 at 01:00
Monday Another day dawns. It's the early shift this morning - early but not very bright as my last shift finished just eight hours ago. A large black coffee before diving headlong into my police work. Pretty routine, the most memorable incident being the 16-year-old knocked off his moped by a car. Why does everyone assume that we become inured to the pain and carnage? Still, I manage to finish on time, so I can collect my two younger children from their schools.

Phone call at 4pm to say that the local education authority officer due to present the agenda items at tonight's Primary Forum meeting will not be there. Cannot cancel everyone in time, so apologise to heads, governors and county councillors. Have a final opportunity to re-read the applications for the headteacher interviews tomorrow. Where does the media get its downbeat information from? It was hard to shortlist from nine excellent applicants, and we have a longer shortlist than expected.

Tuesday Have taken another day's holiday in order to do school work. Meet the applicants over coffee at 8.30am and draw lots for the order of presentations. Wow. Four performances that lead one professional to utter: "I feel privileged to have witnessed those presentations." We lunch separately - social skills and chance remarks have no place in a selection process.

Re-draw the order for interviews, and the candidates manage to select the same running order. A fellow governor, who is also a maths consultant, tries to explain probability to me.

The applications translate into reality. We really do have four superb candidates. The last leaves about 5pm. We promise to telephone them all later in the evening.

A picture of the childminder's meter ticking away flashes before my eyes. It will continue to tick tonight as my wife, a teacher, is attending a course at the education centre.

The governing body meeting to ratify the appointment is scheduled for 6pm, but we are not that decisive. Our choice is made by 6.30 however. A moment's elation precedes one of the most joyous and three of the worst phone calls I have ever made. How do you tell such consummate professionals, "You were brilliant but I"?

Pick up Sarah from Brownies and then rejoice that Katie, my eldest, bought me extra large wine glasses last Christmas.

Wednesday The memories of yesterday return more frequently than the taste of a suspect prawn vindaloo. The system still offends my notions of justice, but it's all we have.

At 6.30pm the junior school head hosts a retirement party for a member of staff. I worry about the LEA, though. For all its training on monitoring and assessment, it failed to notice that she had been 65 for the past eight years. Just manage the six-mile drive to collect Katie from trampolining on time.

Thursday Luxury. I can concentrate on my "real" work and family today. If my wife didn't have a meeting at her school, we could have had an evening at home together.

Friday It's my day off. Most of it is spent writing the formal job offer and finalising contractual details. In the evening, between runs to Beavers for David and Guides for Helen, I try to help a member of staff who is having difficulties running "Cogent" on her PC.

Thank God it's Friday? No, tomorrow is just another working day.

Charles Allingham is a policeman and chairman of a joint governing body in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. He is also chair of the local LEA Primary Forum

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