Thank God it's Friday

9th September 2005 at 01:00
Monday The first sunny morning for weeks is interrupted by a call from our director of education requesting an 8am appointment for tomorrow. I quiz myself all day about what I might have done wrong. An after-school governors' sub-committee agrees a site spending plan and I leave at 7pm, pleased with our attempt at forward planning.

Tuesday By 8.05am the director has told me of plans to consult on the closure of the school. I drive back to work with my head in a spin and tell a deputy in confidence. The initial comment isn't repeatable; neither are the next few. A teacher colleague calls in with a good idea for next year and I probably seem a little distant. I hastily call a meeting to tell senior colleagues of the plan and then arrange for the director to address all the staff.

Wednesday My bland note to colleagues saying the director will be addressing them after school has the wiser ones fearing the worst. The absence of TV cameras or press inquiries bodes well. The director arrives, makes an announcement (in the best way possible) and then leaves. Tearful staff go to the pub, while senior staff continue with a meeting (as planned) but we stare into space for much of the time. These things take longer to sink in than you think.

Thursday Parents and governors are waiting for me when I arrive; they heard the news on a local radio programme at 7am. Just how does the media get to know these things? Letters have started to land on the doormats of all parents and governors, and pupils arrive at school in tears. At hastily arranged assemblies, I ask them to deal with facts and not rumour, but the "When are we closing?" questions continue all day. Absent staff and some governors ring me and one colleague asks for a reference.

Friday I need a brave face for morning briefing. "Don't panic and don't be hasty" is my advice to all. It's not much use; already one of the best members of staff is asking for time off to go for a job interview, and the local authority's admissions office has been inundated with transfer requests. We hold previously planned meetings with parents to admit new-starter pupils, which seems surreal. I begin to think that if staff and pupils leave so fast the LEA won't have much of a job to do as the school might close itself. Before I leave for home, a governor calls to ask for a copy of our forward-looking site spending plan. I reach in the bin.

Mike Cooper is head of a community high school in Merseyside. If you have a diary you would like to share (of no more than 480 words), write to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX or email friday@ tes.co.uk. We pay for every article we publish

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