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

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