Thank God it's Friday

7th March 2003 at 00:00
Monday I teach key skills to a class of prospective plumbers and painters and decorators. "Left school to get away from this," says one. "Wanna be a plumber not an English teacher," says another. We practise writing job applications. I comment on the incorrect spelling of words such as course, plumber and decorate. "Won't need to write," says Mark. "Having me own business."

Tuesday A Year 1 class. One child lies on his back, banging his heels on the floor. His support teacher implores him to sit up and listen. Other children decide his is a better game than looking for "ai" sounds in a text. They lay down and bang their heels. I feel like doing the same.

Wednesday Key skills with art and design students. Their task is to set up a studio, working to a budget. There is a continual bleep-bleep of text messages. I ask Claire if she can think of a more efficient method of working out prices than the one she is using. She replies: "I would have used the calculator on my phone, but you told us to turn them off."

Thursday Year 6 today and I am impressed with the look of the school.

Immaculate displays proclaim the school's philosophy: "We care for each otherI Our targets areI We show respectI We do our bestI" My class arrives.

They kick chairs, yell and throw books. I ask them to sit down. A few comply; the rest continue their rampage.

Friday Another school in a "difficult" area. I'm disillusioned after yesterday and dubious about today. As the children come in they smile and introduce themselves. They listen to what I ask and the day is productive and enjoyable. I talk with the head about how the school achieves as it does. "Simple," he says. "A commitment to doing what we believe in, not what others say we should do."

Brenda Gunning is a supply teacher in South Yorkshire

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