Thank God It's Friday

24th May 1996 at 01:00
Monday: The teacher taking assembly tolerates Thomas making train noises during her story but decides enough is enough when he threatens to shunt throughout the Lord's Prayer. She sends him to the Fat Controller in the engine shed. That's me.

I'm reminded of the child sent to his headteacher for insolence after shouting "It wasn't me, Miss," when the class was asked who knocked down the walls of Jericho. Afterwards the head took his colleague aside and assured her he knew the family well and if the boy said he didn't do it he didn't.

There's the governors' meeting in the evening. I'm not one myself. I'm just the guv'nor.

Tuesday: A visitor takes assembly and I'm fascinated by a pear on the table beside him, wondering which Bible story includes one. Later I discover it was left over from yesterday's lunch. His theme was the power of prayer. I'm not sure Kate was convinced. Every night for the past month she has prayed "Dear Jesus, please let mummy have a baby girl so I can have a little sister, " and yesterday she discovered it was a boy. But she felt sufficiently encouraged to tell her teacher she's going to pray for a "next time".

I'm at a religious education conference in the afternoon and we're told about a head obsessed with 15 minutes for everything - for assembly, for play, for story-time, forIMinds boggle. We're all thinking the same thing. "As long as that?" says a colleague incredulously. We also hear about a head who ended an assembly about forgiveness with the fierce announcement "I want to see the following boys in my office."

Wednesday: I invite the children at assembly to be various characters in the story of Daniel. I reach the point where the King orders his advisers to be slaughtered, whereupon five-year-old Joe declares, "I'm getting out of here," and scoots offstage back to his place in the front row.

A trade rep arrives during the afternoon and shows me a book of fairy stories. It's neither an OFSTED report nor a government document so I might buy it. But I'm sorry for the boy whose mum wouldn't let him buy a savings stamp for the school book club, telling him to spend his money on something useful instead.

Thursday: The children sing well at our weekly church service. They like The Lord of the Dance. But can I really hear "I am the Lord of the dam settee"? Then it's explained that Jesus ascended into heaven and left his disciples comfortless. Sharon tells me later she's glad they were left compasses to show them the way. I recall St George's Chapel, Windsor, where I attended choral Evensong last year. During the third collect and the words "Defend us from all perils and dangers of this night" a guardsman was yelling his socks off outside. I felt very comforted at the time.

Friday: It's my assembly and I'm emphasising with my hand that the paralysed man had four faithful friends. "He had four...four..." "Fingers," interrupts an infant. When I return to the office I realise I've left my glasses behind, but there's a knock on the door and Hannah is holding them. "I'm so relieved, " she says, "I thought you were going to spend the rest of your life seeing in black and white." If only headship was that simple.

Luke Darlington is headteacher of St Mary's CE primary school, Yate, Bristol

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