Thank God it's Friday

4th December 1998 at 00:00

A mixed start to the week. Good news - a call from my agency offering me a day's work at a local comprehensive. Bad news - I'm misdirected at the bus station and get on the wrong bus. The penny drops when we hit green fields. Where's the inner city gone?

Offer my A-Z to the driver, but he's new and just as baffled as I am. I get off in a panic and seek directions at a petrol station to no avail - the solitary forecourt attendant is a temp, too. I become demented and stand by the pumps accosting strangers until a bemused couple take pity on me and drive me cross-country to school. Arrive flustered and slightly late, to be greeted with relief by the deputy.

No work has been set, so I do an impromptu series of lessons on the greenhouse effect, getting the kids to form governments and come up with workable solutions to global warming. They give some good presentations, with some interesting points for discussion. We sadly agree that "shut schools forever to save electricity" is not a viable option.


Another day, another school. This one is a favourite from last year; 8G greet me enthusiastically, clamouring for my famous rendition of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-gogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Promise to teach them how to say it, providing they work hard and complete the work left by their "real" teacher. They set to studiously. This is one of the few advantages of being Welsh in England.


My regular slot teaching my own subject - science - to my own classes. It's refreshing to be considered a "real" teacher, and a luxury to be delivering my own material, building relationships with classes, following their pro-gress and getting some feedback. I even enjoy the marking.

We have lots of fun with the "reproduction" topic. There's the occasional innuendo or suggestive remark, but I manage to retain my sense of humour. However, I lament the lack of a laboratory of myown; nothing's ever where I remember it, so my breaks are spent frantically searching out apparatus and playing hunt the Pritt Sticks.


Another early morning call denies me a day in bed with a good book. I'm asked back to Monday's school to cover for an information technology teacher, despite my protestations that I'm computer illiterate. They can't find anyone else, so I doubtfully agree to do it. I confess my complete ignorance to each class and pinpoint the computer whizz-kids, setting them up as consultants to their peers. Console myself that this develops their communication skills and self-confidence, and spend the day as an expensive (but legally required) babysitter.


I'm back in my role as a "real" teacher but my luck with the "reproduction" unit runs out when one of the usual suspects comes up with topical questions about sheep and Welsh people. At least this provides a smooth, if not welcome, lead into Dolly the sheep and genetic engineering. We move swiftly on.

I'm pleased that I've had a full week's work, but my head is whirling with three sets of timetables and disciplinary sanctions, hundreds of names and faces, and numerous bus numbers and fares. Resolve to find a permanent job soon or at least buy a car. Crawl home to start ringing around for next week's vacancies.

Kathryn Edwards was a supply teacher in West Yorkshire. She now lives in Wales

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