Thank God it's Friday

18th February 2000 at 00:00
Monday I get a desperate phone call - I'm needed ASAP. I rush to the school where I have to wait 15 minutes in the rain before anyone answers the bell. I make my way to the reception class where I find it's wet play. There's no supervision and the classroom looks as if a bomb has hit it. I take control and it turns out to be quite a peaceful day.

Tuesday No call today. I telephone a headteacher who underpaid me by three-and-a-half hours. He apologises profusely. I use the local library to photocopy emergency worksheets as the teachers who won't give you the photocopying code are invariably the ones who don't leave any written instructions either. A deputy head rings at 4pm. Can I do tomorrow morning for a reception class?

Wednesday I arrive, all prepared, only to be told it's Year 6 instead. I'm asked to do tag rugby, music, Greek battle of Marathon, Greek alphabet, and playground duty. The head switches off the classroom lights and asks me not to use them until the children arrive. The music room is double-booked.

Thursday New school today. All the teachers look grim - it's pre-Ofsted week. At playtime, a care assistant offers me a sip of tea from er mug. She explains that all the staff bring in their own tea-bagcoffeesugar each day. There is nothing for visitors.

I am eyed up and down. Is this because I am the only one who is looking smart and wearing make-up? One special needs child hasn't written anything in his English book for five months. With encouragement, he does some lovely work. The whole class is agog and praises him. I sit down to enjoy my sandwiches at lunchtime only to have them spoilt by the other teachers' discussion of their various operations.

Friday I'm booked for a Year 2 class. Playground duty again. I'm told there is an assembly at 10am, so I usher the children to the hall where I find that it's been cancelled.

All the staff go to the pub at lunchtime. I sit in the staffroom with another supply teacher who isn't invited either. We share experiences and decide that it's not only the children who try to take advantage of supply teachers.

At the end of the day a child says to me: "I've seen you on the telly. You're a magician as well as a teacher aren't you?" A magician. If only.

The author is a supply teacher in Devon. She wishes to remain anonymous

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