Thank God it's Friday

31st January 1997 at 00:00
Monday: "I think we're looking at about a month to get that foot right, Mr Groves. No school until then, I'm afraid." The woman's mad, I thought. Has she forgotten that I'm a teacher? I can't just be off! The place will grind to a halt without me. "I mean it," she said, as if reading my mind. "Now go home and put that foot up."

I wondered whether to risk a quip about always putting my foot in it, if not up, but decided that the moment wasn't quite right. Armed with painkillers and the last three editions of The TES which I hadn't got round to picking up from the newsagent, I went home to contemplate the startling idea that I may not be at school for a month.

Tuesday: This is great. I did all my reports which aren't due for a month at least, read the whole new orders for English, caught up with the marking, listened to a good debate on education on the radio and generally got sorted. My supply cover starts tomorrow and it's a real English teacher too. I think I'll settle down this afternoon with the Southern Examining Group oral standardisation tape and a box of chocs left over from Christmas.

Wednesday: "She's really fantastic," trills my second-in-command. "She came armed with all sorts of interesting work-sheets and exciting teaching strategies. All the classes seemed very happy when I popped in to see if she had everything she needed."

Oh God! It's worse than I thought. Why couldn't it have been a science teacher or an off-duty OFSTED person? "And you know how you were wondering how to teach the semi-colon in an interesting and dynamic way? Well she's got this brilliant method..."

Thursday: I've given everything I've got to those kids. I've run clubs for them, taken them to the theatre and made them laugh at my jokes. I've taught them how to use commas and speech marks and how to love Keats. And what thanks do I get? They give their hearts to a whizz kid who apparently had the surliest 15-year-old in Year 10 binding football boot laces round his trousers and playing Malvolio. I am also given to understand she had Year 7 walking round the school grounds "observing" and - according to my second-in-command - producing some of the best creative writing the school has seen in a long time. I'm afraid it's time for plan B.

Friday: "So you see, Doctor, if I'm not there, a whole year's GCSE grades will suffer. Strange as it may seem, they rely on me to teach Twelfth Night.

I've got this sort of knack with it. And they've promised that I will do no break duty or lunchtime supervision. I can just sit in my room and dispense knowledge. Honestly! Please!" Well she wasn't happy, but she agreed in the end. I started quoting Malvolio to show her just how I good I was, and then she gave in quite easily.

The nicest part of the week was getting back home to find a card on the mat. "Get well soon Sir," it said. "From Year 10." Best bit of writing, creative or otherwise, I've seen all week.

The writer uses a pseudonym and teaches in Gloucester

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