Thank God it's Friday

15th January 1999 at 00:00

Simon, an inoffensive little boy, found a penknife in his coat pocket last week. He brought it to school by mistake. But when a larger lad pushed him around, he said that he would stab his tormenter. Suitably punished, his penknife was confiscated and his parents informed.

This morning begins with an interview with the "victim's" parents who demand that Simon be expelled, that the police are called and that Simon's parents be publicly reprimanded. When denied all of these, they threaten "to go to the papers". Dealing with angry parents is second only to the pleasure of clearing a blocked urinal on a hot summer's day.


I am greeted by persistent answerphone messages for me to contact our local newspaper, the same one which gave us a starring role in its "Shock, Horror, Sex Video Expose" last year. I decide not to call back, but inform our press officer.


I ignore another answerphone message. I can't wait to read Fridayday's headlines.

Our education welfare officer visits to discuss the background of recent former pupils caught truanting from their secondary school. They were discovered drunk in a neighbour's garage. When they were with us, their greatest crime was cheek. Secondary school offers so many more opportunities.


The answerphone is ominously quiet. And our press officer has heard nothing.

Five travelling children arrive to start school. None of their mothers can write, but tell us that all five are named "Connor" and all were born, improbably, in '88 or '89. The youngest three assimilate quickly into class, but the two oldest boys are a handful. Paddy tells me I have the evil eye, and that tomorrow he will bring in six cousins to see me. Tommy informs me that the last school he went to was in New York.


The local newspaper has nothing about us. They were trying to get in touch to canvass my views about the 11-plus ballot.

Our travellers are back again. Paddy and Tommy are keen to continue making and playing the numbers game we started yesterday, as long as they can take it home. Their competitive spirit puts our gentle children in the shade.

A traveller support assistant appears just as Paddy's dad visits to say they are moving on. They turned our school upside down, but they also brought a dash of energy to our staid lives. The children will remember them.

Bob Aston is head of a junior school in Kent

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