Monday A white envelope marked "Confidential" lies on the desk. It's written in angry green ink and was delivered by hand. Another complaint about a teacher. This time it is an allegation that Miss Jones "deliberately lunged at Wayne and left a permanent scar". I examine Wayne with the school nurse. No mark visible. I foresee another angry interview with this parent who believes everything his child says, and possible litigation. The truth is that Wayne does not like being told off, even when his behaviour justifies it, and sees this as an entertaining way of getting back at his teacher.
Tuesday Our new policy of closing the school gates to parents before and after school has led to road rage. A parent is ushered into my office. She clutches a crumpled white envelope, on the back of which she has written the words shouted at her by a fellow parent. She was parked awkwardly outside the school, and the other parent nearly had an accident. They live near each other and there is a feud going on between the families. A court injunction looms.
Wednesday Another day, another envelope. This time it's a complaint of bullying by text message between Year 6 girls. The girls' febrile imaginations seem to go into overdrive as the move to secondary school approaches.
Thursday Not one, but two envelopes! The first is from a "no win, no fee"
solicitor who informs me that he holds me responsible for an accident which happened two terms ago involving a boy who had climbed over a fence into a forbidden area. Since we now practise defensive damage limitation, all the witness statements are already written up from contemporaneous notes. Sadly this is an envelope I have been expecting for some time.
The second envelope is from a Year 2 parent whose child is joining our school next term. We try to arrange balanced classes and take friendships into account, but Poppy has had a tiff with her best friend, and could she change classes? Since Poppy has already changed her mind once before, the answer is no. I predict an envelope to the chair of governors, castigating my unreasonable behaviour.
Friday No white envelope! It's brown, it's from Ofsted, and it's good news.
We were inspected a few weeks ago and this is the very good report. Among other pleasing comments is: "The ethos of the school is very good. The school works in very close partnership with parents, with whom it has developed very close links." For once I am grateful to Ofsted for giving voice to the silent majority of parents who are usually drowned out by the white envelope brigade. Perhaps the envelope containing my P45 is not so near after all.
Bob Aston is head of a junior school in Kent