Thank God it's Friday

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
Monday I walk up to the door of the RE mobile classroom to find two of my form still and sad. "There's a dead rabbit." It generates deep discussion.

"Maybe it came to the RE room to die," the class decide. They hold a service. Robert dresses as a vicar, Jerome makes a cross out of twigs and Ahmed writes on a piece of stone "RIP Mr Rabbit". Barry runs to the computer and I help him search for "rabbit+funeral+ poems". We print out "Death Means Nothing At All". Robert reads it solemnly. They bow their heads for 20 seconds, then say: "Goodbye bunny.See you in heaven."

Tuesday The animal graveyard has grown; my class has found bits of a dead bird and a dead frog, and buried them, each with its own tombstone. They decide to make a memorial garden. "Ask the gardening teacher if she has any flowers to spare," I suggest. They rush off and come back with a range of plants. Later, the secretary tells me two of my class ran past the school entrance and grabbed some plants out of pots "in full view of everyone". I suspect the Ofsted comments about my department promoting moral values are starting to pale.

Wednesday Two of the class are allowed to use charity money given by a local benefactor and, after months of debating, decide to spend it on the rabbit. At the local garden centre, each child chooses a plant: a sunflower, some lavender and a pink azalea. Thursday A support assistant brings in some vivid blue paint. Lessons are forgotten as the class paints the memorial garden fence. The school's naughtiest pupil comes to me. "I am so sorry," he says. "I spat in your garden. I didn't realise it was a graveyard."

Friday We find a cat in the garden. He may be using it as a toilet, but to the class it is evidence that animals find it a beautiful place of peace.

At the end of the day, I survey what they have made with so little help.

Salima smiles. "You love that garden, don't you, Miss?" Out of death, came life. Goodbye, Mr Rabbit. See you in heaven.

Anne Krisman is head of RE at Little Heath school, a secondary special school in the London borough of Redbridge

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