Thank God it's Friday

17th January 2003 at 00:00
Monday I have an interview with a father who is angry because I have been "picking on his son". The father says his son was punished last Friday because he was honest and owned up to hitting a smaller boy. In fact, he'd been seen by a dinner lady and owned up under protest. The father claims the victim is a well-known liar who provoked his son. In future his son will be instructed not to own up; he will be told to hit first.

Tuesday A foster carer begs me to take Michael, whose speciality behaviour problem is headbutting children when he is irritated. He has already sent two children from a neighbouring school to Aamp;E and has been permanently excluded. Unfortunately we are over-subscribed. She decides to appeal.

Wednesday A worried mother sees me about a row she's had with a neighbour. The parents and children are enemies and she fears the feud will erupt in school. I can't agree to her child changing classes as we are full. She goes home to consider changing schools.

Thursday We have two truants, John and Sam. They say they ran away because their teacher picks on them. To show that we take truancy seriously, they're banned from the school disco. Sam's mother is livid, and threatens a visit from Sam's father. This is not to be taken lightly, as he has a reputation for violence. John's mother is supportive and grounds him for a month.

Friday I learn that one parent has taken out an injunction against another parent forbidding the woman from approaching her child. And so it goes on. There are weeks when the disruptive behaviour seems about to overwhelm us, and there are weeks when no one misbehaves and no parent raises his or her voice in anger. Nowadays the latter are rare.

John Birch is head of a primary school in the south-east. He writes under a pseudonym

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today