Thank God it's Friday

11th September 1998 at 01:00
Monday I'm glad baby is asleep as I leave because I already feel tearful enough. I board the bus, leaving the car for my partner. My oldest daughter is happy to see me go as she's fed up of being the family's only full-timer.

I'm greeted warmly by the staff - it's a bit like returning after the summer holiday. A colleague (who is returning after having twins) and I compare sleepless nights and make a pact not to ring home. I have broken my promise within an hour and a bemused student watches me through the office window singing "Baa, baa, black sheep" down the phone.

That night I'm asleep by 9.30pm.

Tuesday The baby awakes at 3am. My partner tries to settle her but eventually brings her into our bed. I'm awake at 7am but wrecked and arrive at school without my lunch. I issue lots of credits, trying to get back into Assertive Discipline.

J refuses to work for the final 15 minutes of the lesson. When I ask what he thinks I'll do about this, he says I'll keep him in at dinner-time but he still won't work. We are true to our word.

In the afternoon, my first senior management team bleeper duty. A girl refuses to go to Time Out initially, but eventually goes, nearly taking several doors off their hinges on the way. I mention it to someone who tells me to keep my distance as the girl has nits. My head itches throughout the SMT meeting.

Wednesday My first exclusion since returning. A girl calls a member of staff a "tosser". When asked who's she's talking to, she replies "F *ing you", leaving no room for ambiguity.

K is crying as M hit him, and despite numerous witnesses M will not confess. I leave M in Time Out to think it over. When I return an hour later, his response is clear: "I didn't do nothing". I leave him for another hour. He's now recorded his version of events: "I accidentally nudged K, accidentally pushed past him and accidentally knocked him over." I commend his spelling of accidentally but reiterate that he'll remain here until he tells the truth. As I get up to leave, he says, "OK, I hit him."

Thursday Getting a later bus to school I am greeted by a cheery "Morning, Miss" from a boy at the back. The woman in front of me asks which school they are from. I consider lying but answer truthfully. I anticipate an ear-bashing on their behaviour, so her reply renders me speechless. "Aren't they lovely children, so polite and well behaved. I get this bus every day, and they always say please and thank-you." At school I commend this surreal experience to paper, pinning it to the "Good News" board.

Friday My partner has to attend her work's team building day, so we take the baby to the children's centre. It's the first time we've ever left her - she takes it all in her stride.

I have a training day with a session on hearing impairment. We're given ear plugs to simulate a conductive loss and try to hear various sentences the "teacher" utters. At midday I go to the senior team meeting on improving student attendance - I'm the only one present!

After school at the children's centre, I'm greeted with a running jump at my knees and joyful cries of "ummy!" At home our oldest daughter arrives with her final primary report, which is glowing. My partner then arrives home with tales of her exploding team.

Clare Sullivan writes under a pseudonym. She has returned to her post as senior teacher in an inner-city comprehensive in the north of England after six months' adoption leave

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