Thank God it's Friday

20th May 2005 at 01:00
MONDAY This week marks the start of our Save the Stag Beetle project.

Forget the birds and bees: we're going in for a major breeding programme.

Sex-ed meets sustainable development. The man at BQ queries my need for 30 large orange buckets. The neighbours query my sanity when they see me drilling 20 small holes in each of them. I check the nesting-box instructions again.

TUESDAY Four children surprise me by coming ready prepared with a presentation they have put together on this endangered species. It's astonishing how much information they've unearthed.

Moving on to the science room, the children prepare the nesting-box buckets for distribution. Despite promises not to make a mess, the room is soon awash with compost and bark chippings. The next class is champing at the door to get in and Mr Nobody has hidden the dust-pan and brush again.

WEDNESDAY The head is showing two prospective parents round the school.

They can't fail to notice our amazing display of stag beetle facts. How long do they live? What do they eat? Where do they breed? Yes, we are all masterminds with stag beetles as our specialist subject. It turns out the parents have just dug up an old tree stump in their garden and found hundreds of stag beetle grubs in it. They have one question. The class grins, expectantly. They ask why they exist. Silence. Blank faces. I put "food chains" on the agenda for next week.

Meanwhile, the 30 holey compost-and-bark filled buckets cluttering the science room have drawn the attention of other staff. Several take one home to bury.

THURSDAY After dropping off several buckets at other local schools which are helping us with our project, I am met by the school secretary sporting a sore finger. While digging in her garden the previous evening she felt a sharp nip. Looking down at her hand she saw a huge male stag beetle firmly attached.

FRIDAY Shrieks from the log-pile at break indicate that Year 4 have spotted their first stag beetle. A delegation rushes to the staffroom to break the news to me. We all speed back, gathering onlookers like wasps round a jam jar to cries of, "There's another one"... "There's more over here!" Radio 4 did say stag beetles were endangered, didn't they?

Anne Sweeney is science co-ordinator at Herries school, an independent prep schoolin Cookham Dean, Berkshire. If you have a diary you would like to share (of no more than 550 words), write to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX or email We pay for every article we publish

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