Thank God It's Friday

5th May 1995 at 01:00
Monday: My colleagues desperately prepare for their forthcoming inspection as I, just as desperately, prepare for my forthcoming departure. Books, files, plants and endless photocopies have all filled my car and now my home. My husband anxiously inspects the floorboards in our spare room to see if they are bowing under the extra weight but I can't live without my fossil collection.

Tuesday: I've always found that the last few weeks in a job are characterised by a sense of unreality. The cast tackles its next performance with zeal while you still absorb the fact that the script no longer includes you. Of course someone else's does, but rehearsals haven't begun yet.

Appearances at departmental meetings are lessons only in what it is like to be an understudy. As this school is preparing itself for The Inquisition, the effect is magnified somewhat. Every time colleagues begin speeches like: "If they ask us why the course was organised in this way, what exactly are we going to say?", I know that my successor's hearty rendition of my pat answer will have to be dubbed in later.

Wednesday: Details of what the inspection team wants and what it will actually get, filter through. Even though we've been told there is no point in pretending to be more than we are, the experience of other schools has warned us at least not to pretend to be less. So, mind-boggling timetables have been drawn up and followed for the whole of this term in order that we can all be seen to be committed to IT, equal opportunities and, probably, the nearest sanatorium. Innumerable rain forests have been felled for non-effective form-filling and still the printed pages flow.

Thursday: There are many things I will miss about my current school: some children and colleagues but more intangible features too.

At present, every time I walk past the staff pigeon holes I am reminded of a white-haired nun calling me into her room at the end of a nightmarish week. She delved into a cupboard, produced two school cups and a bottle of whisky "just for medicinal purposes". Sister Mary has long gone, but her refreshing attitude towards pastoral care is a happy memory.

Friday: I am the source of much envy as the school I am going to has just been inspected. I couldn't have planned it better - to miss the torture of being scrutinised twice.

If I play my cards right I could spend the whole of my career in this county avoiding detection. My first question at any future interview won't be my stock in trade: "What are the opportunities for career development?" More like: "When was this school last inspected?" I wish my current colleagues good luck and only hope that Sister Mary comes out of retirement to offer them her special kind of pastoral care.

The author is an English teacher moving from a convent school in Wales.

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