Thank God It's Friday

17th February 1995 at 00:00
Monday: I wonder if that nice Mr Major knows what "parent power" means to most of us - a regular handful of helpless adults and stroppy complainants waiting by my office door each morning. I listen to half an hour of racism and parry it politely, give some advice that might have come direct from a social worker's textbook, assure that homework WILL be set for Felicity in Year 7 and resignedly send a note reminding "all staff".

Next I listen to torrents of abuse shared between mother and daughter and offer them a soothing cup of tea. Then I turn to the pile of mailI Tuesday: Assembly. I hold forth on the effects of robbery on the victims, speaking from the heart. At the same time I glare at Joe Merry in row one, who is poking his neighbour, note that Wayne is asleep in row three and see Farzana admiring her bangles at the back. As they file out two children come and tell me about their experiences, so at least someone was listening.

After school the steering group plans next year's curriculum. It's difficult, as we don't yet know if our three redundancies are going through. Will we have a language teacher of any kind?

Wednesday: Bullying - the head of year and I grill the culprits in turn and finally get a confession. When faced with that, the others cave in and we achieve accurate accounts. I phone the parents and explain why their sons are excluded. "But that's not a punishment, he enjoys being off school!" Wearily I go through the procedures and warn that next time he will be permanently excluded. I also suggest that parents might underline the seriousness of the event by backing us at home.

I write a note asking our special needs co-ordinator to fill out the new 12-page referral form for three individual students who should be seen by the behavioural experts, put it in her pigeon-hole and run.

Thursday: I clear the remainder of the paperwork, have a strong cup of tea and begin work on the school development plan. Peace for half-an-hour, then the phone starts ringing: a parental complaint, a child wanting to transfer schools, information required by the unions for the redundancy procedures, plus three calls the secretary could have dealt with. I don't think I snapped, but I may have been a little sharp.

There's a knock at the door - our chair of governors arrives.She wants to tell me about the problems with her business. Now half-an-hour late, I drive madly to a meeting across town.

Friday: Several staff are sick, so I travel from class to class, noticing that the maths room desperately needs painting, the French books all need replacing and the electric wiring is tripping the system in science. What a pity our premises budget is being cut to the bone.

In the afternoon the newly-appointed head visits. I tell him how I've fixed the budget by cutting every heading and we won't be bankrupt as long as the redundancies go through. Then we talk about improving staff morale. His face slowly grows whiter as I mention the Year 8 disciplinary problems and the three staff on long-term sick leave. I'm so glad I'm not in his shoes.

Christine Ash is acting head in a Midlands comprehensive, writing under a pen name.

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