Thank God it's Friday

7th June 1996 at 01:00
Monday: "But, Wendy, you've got to go to school this morning - after all, you are the deputy head."

For the moment I am. Today's my first day back after six months maternity leave. Jack is busy developing a one-to-one relationship with his childminder while I'm destined for a 1 to 26 ratio.

The Reception Class receives me. Since September last, their brightness of eye and bushiness of tail have given way to dullness of ear and looseness of mouth.

They've seen off two supply teachers, clearly feel lucky and are out to make my day.

I spend the day assessing letter formation (wouldn't recognise a B if it stung them on the nose); mathematical concept of capacity (or incapacity); news books (surely they can't all have played Sonic The Hedgehog the entire weekend?); colour recognition (they manage it once in a blue moon) and readers ("The Very Hungry Caterpillar"ate my TES).

I drive to the childminder's, exhausted, but one smile from my own little cherub and I'm revitalised - what are we going to have for tea? Chicken and chips for us, oxtail-and-apricot puree for Jack.

Tuesday: The head announces my decision to relinquish my four-year deputy headship and be cast adrift as a "floater" - the educational equivalent of a bag-lady. No mention of the fact that I wanted to continue as deputy in a job-share. I'm grateful that my headmaster husband's wage will allow me to spend half the week, from September, with my new son.

I've no regrets - disgraced Tory politicians are always mumbling about the merits of family life. It's just that it would've been nice to hold on to some status and responsibility as well as the baby.

Wednesday: Meeting after school to discuss internal reorganisation for September. Also next week's trip - up the Rochdale Canal into the uncharted heart of darkest Yorkshire with 80 infants, chocolate-spread sandwiches and a bucket of midge-cream. Life-saving drill rehearsed. What we really need is a consignment, of bargehorse collars - for the kids.

Thursday: It hit me today. Jack had a reproachful glint in his eye as I handed him over. It's not as though I'm leaving him on the doorstep of a foundling hospital; in fact, he and the childminder are already disconcertingly pally, swapping jokes, sneering at the chat shows on morning television over coffee and a Gipsy Cream. I'm feeling left out and cry the whole journey into work. At 30 I never thought I'd be the one standing at the school gates, sobbing - this time because of leaving someone behind rather than someone leaving me.

Friday: I shrug off yesterday's emotional wobble, and crash through a solid wall of paperwork. Feel more organised as a result. I'd like to impress them with my mature efficiency, nobility of demeanour, absence of sour grapes, etc, in my final few weeks - "nothing became her in office so much as the leaving of it".

Is there life after deputy headship? Of course there is - ask any other fallen-from-grace officials. Perhaps I could embark on a lecture tour "LMS Budgeting And The World Bank: A Radical Proposal", or, more likely, "New Trends In Nature-Table Monitoring". No, there are enough new challenges ahead of me and I feel excited, embarking on my own chosen job-share, as teacher and Mum.

Wendy Taylor is a support teacher for two-and-a-half days a week at a Church of England primary school in Rochdale, Lancashire

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