Thank God it's Friday

25th September 1998 at 01:00
MOnday A headteacher colleague phones to say she's tired and can't wait for half term - by the time I've finished expanding on what it's like to be head of a residential school open 49 weeks, she's forgotten why she's phoned.

I can just about remember the school being closed for one week in early August. I recall the Thursday morning when I watched Kilroy while still in bed. Tired - I am beyond tired. Half term, what's that? My senior teacher looked shattered at the end of last week. I doubt he'll make it to December 23 when we close the school again.

Tuesday I'm a bit late this morning - why do I always think 8am meetings are a good idea? One of the teachers has a classroom management problem. With up to six adults to manage in the class, you can see why! I do feel awfully tired - I concentrate, listen, but still have trouble following the plot. Finally I grasp a passing notion and make a few suggestions.

My secretary asks cheerfully if I want to do the post. I say I will - only if I have answers to my many August letters. I think all county halls have a non-communication policy for August. I struggle to finalise details of placements and get funding agreed, and they hibernate or play the "I don't know, but I know a man who does" game. I think August in school should be cancelled - I've been teaching for 25 years and my body clock knows when that month's upon us.

Wednesday Did I really say I would do a presentation on the role of the school to our trust managers? I have no recollection of this wild promise, but there it is in black and white. After an initial panic, I devise a quiz and give a prize for the most correct answers. It seems to go down well. I almost long for the sanity of the 4.30pm teachers' meeting where we can talk about target setting and self-evaluation teams.

There really is no hope, my inner self cries. Having the whole of August off would have helped.

Thursday It really is mind over matter. I am not tired; it is, after all, September. My brain is locked into preparations for annual reviews, parents' evening, board reports.

I just finish the AGM report when I spy a lonesome visitor sitting in reception - I am expecting an informal visitor for a teaching post. Ever vigilant, I steam in to accost the unsuspecting soul. But she seems very reticent, so I make excuses to leave and find my secretary, who asks me what I'm doing with the head of care's prospective bank staff in my office. The mists begin to clear: the woman in my office isn't a prospective teacher. No wonder she didn't understand my Office for Standards in Education versus developmental curriculum comments.

Friday The teachers have to book their annual leave six months in advance. One of the new members of staff has not quite got to grips with this system, and her line manager is trying to get her organised so that cover can be arranged. Her line manager is explaining that she didn't have to worry about December 24 because school was closed anyway. What date is Christmas? she asks. December 25, my colleague replies - just like it always is. Is it?, she replies. Oh yes, look, you're right, it says so in my diary.

I thought I had problemsI Jan Cunningham is head of St Margaret's School, Tadworth, Surrey, for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex medical needs

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