Thank God It's Friday

25th November 1994 at 00:00
Monday: A water fountain has been donated by The Drinking Fountain Association, an organisation which once included Cattle Trough in its title. To see children's table manners these days, many would think it still appropriate.

Once again I forget my password for the computer link with the local education authority and have to own up. I ring the hot-line saying I've been using the names of past girlfriends, but can't remember which one. It's a porky that's appreciated, and I'm let off. During the afternoon, heads are advised about an LEA answerphone service for queries about sex education. We're advised it's not a hot-line for confidential chats.

The caretaker rings during the evening for advice about installing the fountain. I've no idea about such things but suggest he points it downhill.

Tuesday: There's a Year 6 trip soon and I'm flattered to be asked to take part. I accept with pleasure, only for the teacher to admit later it'll be useful to have a bloke to supervise the boys in the public loo. There's another non-teaching skill for my CV when I've retired from this job.

For some reason this reminds me of the warden at a field study centre who showed some willow warblers to some seven-year-olds. Later on one of them grabbed a helper's arm excitedly and said "Look, Miss, there's another of those willy wobblers!" Wednesday: It's not a teacher who's wanted on the phone during lesson-time; a child is. Mummy upset Emma at breakfast and urgently needs to talk to her. Children will bring their own poseur-phones soon. Later, someone asks to be put through to the kitchen at the height of the lunch hour. The timing's brilliant, like the window-cleaner washing the skylights during assembly, and the groundsman with his strimmer during the summer concert when all the windows are open.

Once again I prove my theory that a reception infant will always nip in front of me if I try to jaywalk through a gap when a line of them is passing by. A young mum wants to register her son for 1999. He's called Columbus. I suppose the collective noun will be a discovery.

Thursday: A teacher shows the children some artefacts. They think front and back collar studs are earrings and a button hook is something a dentist used. Another teacher is alarmed when six-year-old William wants the spelling of "poncer". She asks for the sentence. "Oncer poncer time," comes the reply.

On arriving home I find a message from a parent on my answerphone which was recorded during the morning when I was available in school. It's one of several calls from this family to my home number and the sort of abuse which could make me go ex-directory.

Friday: It's an in-service training day. Parents evidently read my letters before they become shopping lists because there's only one incredulous phonecall.

I remember being told that INSET is to schools what prayer is to the Church of England. You somehow expect results because you know it's a good thing, but you're not quite sure why you're doing it.

I can't easily test that theory, nor the one that states if a speaker continues for more than 30 minutes, 80 per cent of the audience will lose interest, and 80 per cent of that number will be asleep after an hour, while the rest have sexual fantasies.

But I can confirm that listening skills were part of my appraisal and I'm not an insomniac.

Luke Darlington is headteacher of St Mary's C of E Primary School, Yate, Bristol.

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