Thank God it's Friday

8th December 2000 at 00:00
Monday Day one of PGCE observations and tasks for three students. Ruth and Jan arrive at 8am and offer to laminate, mediate and generally alleviate Monday morning pressure. They are wearing bright, child-friendly clothes. Sue arrives at 8:45am, takes her tea into the classroom and sits on a table to observe her class teacher prepare for 33 children (two statements and one with severe cerebral palsy).

Tuesday I glimpse Ruth and Jan at breaktime scribbling notes on the literacy and numeracy lessons they have observed. At lunchtime they chat with some reluctant diners over a plate of pasta and none too savoury mince. At 4:30pm they are still photocopying lesson plans from their class teacher. Sue makes a cup of tea and settles down to observe the cleaners attacking the staffroom.

Wednesday Ruth offers to hot-seat, puts on a fur coat and is subjected to a barrage of questions about how it feels to be a wolf. "Do you really eat dear little rabbits?" asks six-year-old Amy with tears in her eyes. "I prefer pies," says Ruth ambiguously. Jan devises a maths task using number squares and dice. She is amaed at how quickly the children complete it and goes home having found out from her class teacher how to extend and consolidate the activity for Thursday. Sue sits with some readers, but can't conceal a yawn.

Thursday "My, what good writing you've got!" says the wolf in Ruth's display of the children's letters to her. "All the better to get 2A in my SATs," says the hand-painted, laminated and beautifully presented Red Riding Hood. Sue skips assembly to observe the kettle boiling. "Are you having a useful week?" we ask Sue doubtfully.

Friday Ruth and Jan are inspired by their fortnight. They leave with moist eyes and hugs from the children. Jan has resisted a career in education because it's what her parents do, but now she's hooked and can't wait to start. Ruth had to battle her way on to a PGCE course, having taken drama as a degree and without English, maths or science at A-level. Sue couldn't think what she wanted to do, but as a history graduate decided a PGCE was the only option.

The writer is head of a primary school in the south of England and is writing under a pseudonym

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