Thank God it's Friday

29th June 2001 at 01:00

I'm walking along the Yorkshire moors with Heathcliff, when the alarm clock shatters my dream. Two-year-old Grace has been lying across the top of our bed since 2am. Four-year-old Edward bounds down the stairs and knocks over the juice I have just put out. At times like this, I think I go to work for a rest. I change my mind at school. In my precious non-contact time, I mark my Year 11 "post-mock practice" English language exam. Question: "Should school sport be compulsory?" "No," writes Gregory, "pupils should be forced to do it." Note: work on vocabulary before the real thing.


The day begins much like yesterday. Grace follows me to the bathroom. I leave her on the toilet while I rummage for a pair of ladder-free tights. I find her tearing the backs off my panty-liners and sticking them to the walls.


Workload is a burning issue at school at the moment and the teacher governor has arranged a meeting after school to gather staff concerns. I am one of six present. Others send their apologies: they are too busy to attend.


I've worried all week about this afternoon's Year 12 lesson on A Streetcar Named Desire. Only 13 out of 25 students turn up. This has never happened before, but then it dawns on me that there's a sixth-form party tonight; they've bunked off my lesson to get ready. I draft an angry letter to parents about their offspring's lack of commitment.


Butterflies before my Year 11 class. Half will not have done their homework and will have the usual excuses. Kieran and Patrick will disrupt the lesson and little English will be done. When Kieran brings me his report card, I write "unsatisfactory" as he has no homework with him and he hasn't done any work all lesson. He is incredulous and storms out of the room, calling me the worst teacher in the school. Thank God for weekends.

Catherine Minnis teaches English at Cardinal Newman RC high school in Luton, Bedfordshire

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