Thank God it's Friday

9th January 2004 at 00:00
Monday One of our pupils, 13-year-old Matthew, took an overdose on Sunday.

He ran away from home on Saturday, reappearing at Sunday midday. He is now in Aamp;E, sleeping it off.

Tuesday Lesley refuses to come into school. She says she is worried her dad might come back at Christmas. The last time she saw him was six years ago.

Matthew returns to the unit and school.

Wednesday The day of our Christmas party. All the students are crying and worried about what Christmas may bring. But by lunchtime most are laughing at the cracker jokes and enjoying the food the staff has made. We play games and sing carols in the afternoon.

Thursday The wood and railway sleepers arrive for our spring term project.

All the students make a huge effort to move the materials into the garden before the Christmas break. Kathy doesn't come into school. Her family has had a bereavement. Should she be allowed to go to the funeral? Emily is sick. The rest make calendars while Barry finishes his French coursework.

Friday The group goes to the gym for their weekly PE lesson. Only three join in. Two want to run away. Two staff run after them and spend 20 minutes encouraging, cajoling and advising them to come back to the group.

Back at the unit, debrief takes 90 minutes. Parents come to take their children home. Will they go? Reports are handed over to parents, and copies sent to mainstream schools. Total exhaustion. Thank God it's Friday and the end of term.

The writer teaches in a psychiatric unit for teenagers with severe emotional difficulties. She wants to remain anonymous

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