Thank God it's Friday

5th January 2001 at 00:00
MONDAY The troops are restless. Battle plans have been drawn up, and fall-back positions detailed. Alicia (Year 4) and Adam (Year 5) are returning from exclusions for violent, disruptive behaviour. A newly drafted learning support assistant discusses the merits of shin pads with her more experienced colleague. The key stage 2 staff are stressed. If smoking were allowed, they would be puffing for Britain.

No show from Alicia. Adam turns up unaccompanied at 9.20am and bides his time. At lunchtime he manages to create an atmosphere of violent intimidation until we remove him from circulation.

TUESDAY Alicia is seen on the school perimeter, circling the playground. When she is eventually tempted in, she races from one end of the school to the other. Children scatter in her wake. Yesterday she didn't come because she was going to the hospital to check her medication. Mum got fed up with waiting so they went and bought new trainers instead. She eats a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar and hugs her LSA. Then she refuses to work.

Adam fails to arrive. We let all possible agencies know as he has been seen at te shops and there is a history. Staff stand down and a calm day ensues.

WEDNESDAY Adam's social worker phones to say his mum thinks he's got flu. I make a mental note to sit him next to as many sick children as possible on his return. Alicia will now work if she is allowed to have the head's soft toy owl sitting next to her. She completes three tasks and her LSA looks like the Cheshire cat.

THURSDAY Adam is still absent. The atmosphere is calm. This school is used to handling difficult and unsettled children and their chaotic lives, but the relentless disruption has worn staff down. This period of respite has been an oasis.

Alicia continues to be relatively compliant. Is it the medication or the high level of support she is receiving? We don't have to wait long to find out as the new LSA is only on loan for four weeks. What then?

FRIDAY An Inset day with Danish pastries courtesy of a member of staff who is taking a career break. In theory he'll be back in six months. In theoryI Saskia Robbins is head of a special needs primary nursery in the west of England. She writes under a pseudonym


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