Thank God it's Friday

1st October 2004 at 01:00

As we set off for an adventure holiday in Shropshire with the Year 6 happy gang, the coach driver announces there will be no stopping on the way down and defies anybody to go near the onboard facilities. How I wish I'd avoided that last cup of fruit tea. We're not allowed on the site until 3pm, but arrive far too early. The driver suggests a two-hour tour of the countryside. We all grab the sick buckets.


Or is it still Monday? The two days seem to have merged into one as most of the children haven't slept, finding time for midnight feasts, 2am snacks, 3am wanderings and a 4am football match. I appear to be the only one who is at all homesick. The children long for continuous action while I crave my slippers, duvet and evening cup of cocoa.


I'm persuaded that only the wimpiest of teachers doesn't go on the zip wire. I'm pleased the children are far below as I beg the instructor to declare we've run out of time. I eventually jump and plan a glorious assembly around this personal triumph.


The children finally sleep through. I get the same feeling I did all those years ago when my own son stopped his regular nightly disturbances. After abseiling, climbing walls and aerial runways, I end up in the local hospital with one of my charges, who tripped walking to dinner.


The children have grown this week. They are more confident, self-esteem has risen and teamwork has improved. Next time we'll come earlier in the school year and reap some of the benefits ourselves. I pray this sort of experience is not really in danger from the sue-the-schools contingent.

Next term's half-term holiday will include nothing more adventurous than raising a glass of wine. I'm exhausted.

Mike Beale is headteacher of Holland Moor primary in Skelmersdale, Lancashire

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