Thank God It's Friday

28th June 1996 at 01:00
Sunday: Spend the weekend trying to conquer Year 10 exam marking. Fail miserably so I'm happy to be interrupted by the head of sixth form. Have I read The TES? We've won a "highly commended" for the school prospectus which includes my bit on the sixth form.

Monday: The head and deputy who compiled the main school section in the prospectus are lukewarm in their enthusiasm: we didn't win. I'm invigilating A-level today - dull but it gives me some thinking time.

Towards the end of the day, one of my highest-fliers (she's taking a clutch of A-levels) comes to see me. Her boyfriend has finished with her - two days before her first exam. We talk and she leaves with the semblance of a smile. I want to strangle the boy but make a mental note to see how he's coping.

Tuesday: Invigilating Year 10 exams today, there's a lower sixth assembly on how to prepare for exams and it's just under a year to our OFSTED inspection. I muse on the variety the inspectors will see: preparation for Year 9 national tests; preparation for Year 10 and Year 12 internal exams; revision for GCSE; revision for A-level. I wonder how many "excellents" we'll get for that?

Our Young Enterprise company is holding a quiz night tonight. My teams comes second. Perhaps this is my lot.

Wednesday: Young Enterprise won the area final for best company and is in the Lancashire finals tonight so we fit in an extra rehearsal after school. At 4pm we pack 12 students, large display boards and numerous boxes of products into the mini-bus.

We don't win. It's intimated that we came second - quelle surprise! But we get no feedback on the team's weaknesses or on the winning team's strengths. So how are we to improve and what are the judges awarding 50 "discretionary" marks for? I wonder if this is how they evaluate in the real world.

This morning I left home before my son was up so now I'm anxious to see him before he goes to bed. He has one of his 22 GCSE exam papers tomorrow and is still revising when I get home. We have light-hearted chat for 10 minutes, avoiding discussion of impending exam. He's in control.

Thursday: Third lower-sixth assembly on exam prep. I hear myself talking about how you have to learn to manage stress. I have a blinding headache which means I can't read my notes properly but I wish them all good luck.

Horror! I'm invigilating my own son's history exam. Go to the back of the hall and watch him like a hawk. At my office I find two sixth-formers worrying about their exams. We break out the herbal tea and chill out. But I realise I really do have a migraine and had better get home while I can still drive.

Friday: The leavers' assembly goes down well. I get to teach a class today, Year 9 poetry, we're looking at rhythm. They bring in Oasis and Guns 'n Roses; I offer John Masefield and Tennyson. I can't wait to get home to spend some time with my son. He IS the first prize and is always able to bring on a heart-warming smile. Thank God for him.

Maura Elliott is an English teacher and sixth-form senior tutor at Lytham St Annes High School, Lancashire

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