Thank God it's Friday

1st October 1999 at 01:00
MONDAY I have envisioned this day for 10 months: headteacher of my own school. How will I present my vision for the future to my new staff? What will they think of me? The agenda for the staff meeting is prepared. A smart but subtly understated suit is ready in the wardrobe. However, I slip into some jeans and throw on a T-shirt, for today I must present myself at the department for nuclear medicine to be injected with radio isotopes so that my lymph nodes may be mapped. As my staff meeting begins, chaired by my stalwart deputy, I am being fed slowly into a machine that looks remarkably like a photocopier. There is a lot of waiting around, so I take a questionnaire from the DFEE about my views on the NPQH, for which I am studying, and one about my attitude to the treatment I am about to start for breast cancer.

TUESDAY My staff have an INSET day about the numeracy hour. As they return home I am coming round to a hazy vision of flowers and a pile of mail. I was warned about the mail a headteacher receives but this is a bizarre combination of "Good luck in your new job" and "Get well soon" cards. I get to wear a new outfit, an Mamp;S nightie and a magnificent pair of anti-embolism stockings.

WEDNESDAY As my pupils arrive at school for the first day of the autumn term, I am wishing I hadn't ordered the croissant. As they lead in to assembly, I am confronted by a physiotherapist who is adamant that I can move my arm to 90 degrees. By lunchtime I have learnt how to get to the loo without getting tangled up with the drains that lead out from my side and feed into some charming little bags, tr s de rigueur this season. By home time I am unveiled and am relieved to see that if the teaching doesn't work out I could still be a topless waitress, so long as the lights are dim.

THURSDAY My NPQH assessment for the leading and managing teachers module is due today. But my priority is to become acquainted with the spa bath. A chair that is not dissimilar to a fairground ride rises into the air, turns, hovers and gently lowers me into a warm, foaming pool of luxuriousness. A maiden washes my back and hair. As I bask in this amniotic haven I reflect on being a headteacher and feel grateful I am no longer a deputy head. Mine must be shattered by now.

FRIDAY My first week as a head has been memorable. I haven't shirked from delegation. I have established open communications with parents. My staff are brilliant and my deputy is wonderful - I know that I can rely on them and hope that soon I will be able to make my contribution. Who knows what lies ahead?

Ailsa Vincent is head of Flexlands School, Chobham, Surrey

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