Thank God it's Friday

23rd January 1998 at 00:00
MONDAY "Uh-oh!" it's Monday, as the Teletubbies might say. Their communication skills are indeed limited but what's new? Schools cope with dodgy communication all the time. Today, for instance, there's a letter addressed to the Awful Wet Play Supervisor. Who can I give that to without causing offence?

Neil's mum rings to say he's absent because he'll be at the speech therapist having "electrocution" lessons. When I inform his teacher her non-verbal grin of relief is so broad I could post a letter through it.

TUESDAY I have a problem with the office computer. "It always has a nervous breakdown when you use it," my secretary says. I continue struggling. "Leave it, please," she begs. "I'm incorrigible," I reply. "I was thinking of a shorter word," she says.

Becky comes to me for a Well Done sticker. She has a "fwend" with her, but she's in good company because even headteachers like to be with "fwends'. And they don't like it either when I try to split them into groups at a course I'm running. Then they don't pay attention properly - there's the usual nodders - one at the front who vigorously agrees with everything that's said, and some at the back who seem overtired.

Back at school in the evening I nod off myself during discussion about the May Fair, only to wake up when my watch alarm goes off. "...barbecue, the horses, " someone says. I'm astonished. What was wrong with my hot dogs last year? I'm further embarrassed because I can't stop the alarm and have to admit borrowing the watch from lost property.

WEDNESDAY I show some visitors round and apologise that some classrooms still have desks with inkwells. Computers and quill pens seem an odd mix in 1998, but handwriting may become optional anyway when information technology takes over completely.

Afterwards, a local headteacher, obviously female, tells me about the policeman who called concerning some vandalism. "Are you the headmaster?" he enquired. "This case won't be solved quickly," she thought.

THURSDAY It's the vicar's assembly and he's talking about The Good Shepherd. "What should you do if you lose your trousers?" he asks. "Pray?" suggests one boy, worried what his mum would say. Then the children bow their heads, their colourful hairbands bringing further cheer on a dull day, and I recall the miniature tornado who held his head in his hands and was so quiet that Miss wondered whether anything was wrong. "I'm consummating," he said.

The LEA's weekly diplomatic (ouch!) bag arrives, including a questionnaire about Communications Technology. I try faxing my reply but can't because the machine at the other end isn't working.

FRIDAY The National Pupil Absence Tables arrived in an URGENT (red label) package last term. I'm still puzzled why the sender had "pleasure in enclosing" them. They may be compulsive reading for some but the children's efforts are much more entertaining.

Young Ben drew a picture of his dad at the Leisure Centre kiosk when his family went swimming yesterday. "my dadey peeing" he wrote. Ingenuous maybe, but at least it's intelligible.

Luke Darlington is head of St Mary's Church of England Primary School, Yate, near Bristol

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