Thank God it's Friday

9th June 2006 at 01:00
MONDAY "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." And so Martin Luther King's speech begins "Excellence and Enjoyment: social and emotional aspects of learning (Seal)"

with my Year 6 class. Unfortunately, Polly, my student, is busy preparing work, so misses our discussion about Anthony Walker, the black teenager murdered only 20 miles away from us.

TUESDAY Polly is concerned about showing evidence of equal opportunities in her file; however, she has asked the vicar (a woman) to answer questions in class, following our visit to the church last week. The children plan their questions. I'm impressed. All thoughts are on the vicar, her role and their confirmation service with the bishop. They're a sensible bunch.

WEDNESDAY Polly leads the question and answer session, raising the equal opportunities issue. A happy vicar departs, having explained her role and "vestments through the ages". In our staff meeting later in the day, we're reminded about the Bishop of Liverpool's visit to the school on Friday.

Time for a final tidy and classroom check. What is the formal address for a bishop?

THURSDAY I'm confronted in the playground by a swarm of girls from my class. "We don't want to change in class anymore... we want to change in the hall!" I call in the ringleaders and help them rephrase their demand into a question. "Please may we change in the hall, as we don't want to change with the boys anymore?" It's a common request by pubescent Year 6 girls, but my "OK" seems unexpected, and is received by the waiting horde in a manner reminiscent of Emmeline Pankhurst addressing the suffragettes.

FRIDAY The staffroom smells of polish and I wonder if bishops think that the whole world smells of polish and incense. In assembly, the head announces that during their tour of the school, they will stop for a question and answer session in Year 6. Back in class, the children dust off their questions for the vicar in preparation for the bishop. I suggest that they think back to their equal opportunities work on Monday and ask questions related to this, both racial and sexual. Having lit the touch-paper, I retire to the staffroom and allow Polly to start her literacy lesson. Unfortunately, I miss the "Why are there no female bishops?" question, but I do catch the "How many black bishops are there?"

and "How many bishops in total?" Equal opportunities? We hold these truths to be self-evident.

Roger Humphries teaches Year 6 at St John's primary, Hindley Green, Wigan.

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