Thank God It's Friday

3rd March 1995 at 00:00
Monday: The school is in organised chaos; a hive of activity, shall we say. The foyer is a forest of potted palms and hanging baskets; the caretaker is hurtling about like a pin ball, drilling holes into every door, followed by a deputy head with a pile of name plates in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. You see, this week marks our official opening as a grant-maintained school and the Minister is due on Thursday.

GM status has brought with it many things: new resources, new tensions, new logos and signs but the most obvious change has been in our transformation from a school to a hard-hat site.

As the morning progresses, we are interrupted by a lorry-load of new bricks - trying to inspire Year 7 with the finer points of Roman engineering pales compared with the immediate engineering feat of building a swimming pool.

Tuesday: The Minister's schedule is handed out to staff, with instructions about procedures for the day. No pupils to be allowed out of class on Thursday morning; no pupils to be sent to use the new resource centre as this will be closed during the official opening ceremony.

Classes are interrupted this afternoon as selected pupils are plucked out of lessons to rehearse for Thursday. Just as they leave, a Camcorder looms around the edge of the door. GNVQ media students have been assigned to record events on Thursday and are anxious to practise - would I mind if Year 9 was videoed?

Wednesday: The school has an air of panic - the plaques recording the official opening have arrived with three spelling mistakes. We are, apparently, a "comminity school" about to be opened by a "junoir minister" who is a "member of Parliment".

This afternoon's lesson on Explorers and Discoverers with Year 8 takes on a whole new meaning as we try to discover ways of learning without the aid of the CD-Rom; the network has crashed.

Some pupils come up with the novel idea of using books.

This proves to be a huge success and an enjoyable lesson is had by all.

Thursday: The big day arrives. The foyer is a blaze of colour; every member of senior management is resplendent in the brightest garment Tie Rack sells. The corridors are thick with hanging baskets and the dinner hall looks like the set of a holiday programme.

The Junior Minister, now correctly spelt and in place, arrives at 11am. He will be unveiling two plaques.

The caretaker, who's been at work since dawn, has made a terrible discovery: we only have one pair of curtains.

A Pythonesque scene unfolds: the first plaque is unveiled and as the Junior Minister exits right for a tour of the building the caretaker enters stage left with his Black and Decker.

He whips down the curtain rail and runs across the playground, dodging pupils, holding the velvet drapes aloft like a trophy.

Safe inside the other building, drilling starts and the curtains are nearly in place when it's discovered one of the screws is missing.

The official party comes into view and we freeze, unable to think until the secretary sidles up with a piece of Blu-Tac and all is secure. When the politician tugs on the cord we applaud with feeling.

Lunch with Year 7 passes off without incident and by 1pm it's all over - a black limousine whisks the Junior Minister on his way as the rest of us collapse in a heap.

Friday: The head is in a good mood after last night's prime spot on TV (we were item number three on the local news) and this morning's newspaper reports. He's not been in such high spirits since he discovered a local estate agent was using the school as a draw to sell houses.

The network has gone into decline - after showing off for a couple of hours yesterday it shut itself down and refused to come back on line.

Looks like we'll have to make do with books again.

Elizabeth Byrnes writes under a pseudonym.

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