Thank God it's Friday

8th March 1996 at 00:00
Monday: The first hint that this will be an unusual week comes from Keith. Aged 11, he is in Year 6 and since nursery days has been fascinated by the weather. "Snow", he says, with the confidence of a man destined for meteorological greatness.

Playground duty wrapped in several layers, confirms my faith in Keith. I suggest to Laura that if she is going to play for Manchester United and Wales she should try to avoid pneumonia by not dribbling round the yard without a jumper, coat or bobble hat. She points out that Ryan Giggs never needs such accessories and proceeds to score a blinder, swerving just inside one of the coats that serves the much more useful purpose of a goal post.

Tuesday: I have brought home Clwyd local education authority's directive on severe weather, issued after the last snow. It's difficult to take a county-wide decision when there are some schools like ours on the coast, and others high in the hills. Last time, the director of education took what appeared to be a sensible decision to close all schools, but he was caught out by a sudden thaw in "sunny Rhyl". Adults were driving to work with sun roofs open, while children enjoyed an unscheduled holiday.

The new four-page directive is really saying, "You're on your own". Peering out in the early hours I see my village as a candidate for next year's Christmas card. By morning my car has disappeared under a snowdrift so I beg a lift from a local farmer whose Landrover is the only vehicle moving. Eventually, Prestatyn station hoves into view and there's a train to get me to school. The worst snow in 50 years. Seven of my staff turn up and three children - out of 275.

Wednesday: I couldn't get home last night but a wonderful community spirit flourished in the pub near school and I was offered bed and board by several parents. I ended up in the spare room of a teacher who lives 100 yards from school. This morning brings bright blue skies and our school looks like a perfect location for the next Winter Olympics.

I brave the walk to school avoiding snowballs. To my amazement, both our newly qualified teachers battle in and we have a teacher:pupil ratio ofone to five.

Sion, just out of college and full of bright ideas, takes pictures of huge icicles for his Water topic and helps his very small class win the All Comers Snowman Building Contest.

I ring the local education authority to be told that a snow plough should be here by late evening. Loads of paper work gets done waiting until 9pm when the machine arrives. Having just checked my new budget, I wonder what it would have cost a grant-maintained school.

Thursday: The main roads are clear of snow but lots of side roads are still blocked or icy so only half our pupils make the journey. All the teachers are in and the average class is 12-strong instead of 33. So class size doesn't affect the quality of education? Tell that to the children who today enjoy real time with their teachers.

Every teacher hears each child read for a sustained period. Sion does some excellent work on negative numbers as his pupils take the temperature of the snow. Creative writing is inspired. Just after lunch Keith arrives and announces that a thaw is on its way. On the strength of his prediction I'll go home tonight - only 48 hours late.

Friday: Who could doubt him? The thaw has arrived and today two-thirds of pupils are back. Next time I'll put money on one of Keith's forecasts. The children are full of enthusiasm for their Arctic adventures and Sion's class has set up an investigation into the rate of melting.

As I drive home, a radio phone-in programme berates lazy teachers for having a holiday in the snow. If I could afford a car phone, I'd ring in and bore listeners with my 60-hour week. Better still, I could offer Keith's services for the station's Weather Call.

David Evans is headteacher of Custom House Lane Junior School, Connah's Quay, Clwyd

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