Thank God it's Friday

7th March 1997 at 00:00
Monday: I look forward to assemblies these days. Our headteacher invites governors to attend on a rota basis and it's my turn today. I am convinced I will enjoy the experience -free to soak up the atmosphere with no worries about whether the content is suitable for everyone.

I spent 25 years on the other side of the prayer book as a headteacher. During that time I must have been involved in something approaching 1,000 Monday assemblies, not to mention all the other days. They're one of the great challenges of the headteacher's job.

Tuesday: The head has looked stressed for ages and now he tells me he is desperate to go before Gillian Shephard puts an end to early retirement. But the deputy? She's always seemed in total control and lots of parents reckon she runs the school. To lose her as well would be a real blow. Now it is my turn to panic. As chairman I need a meeting urgently. The man at the local education authority office is less than helpful. "You'd better get advertisements in quickly. They're all trying to get out. You'll be lucky to get any worthwhile applications."

Wednesday: Most of our governors can attend meetings at the shortest of notice, but I am surprised how few of them share my feelings of panic. "Of course we must approve their applications for early retirement," says the vicar generously. "They've served us well and it's a good school. We'll have no problems replacing them."

And so we set about writing the advertisements: "Proven track record. Evidence of success at management level." The usual jargon. Strange that some governors don't think we need to mention teaching or children even.

Thursday: It's been one of those long nights when each minute seems to last an hour. I've got a new anxiety on my mind. It's the envelope containing information about next term's Office for Standards in Education inspection. How could I have let this slip my mind? An OFSTED without a head or deputy! What on earth is the next step for me, a pensioner doing voluntary work? It takes the whole day flitting distractedly from one task to another before I reach a decision.

Friday: The man at the office was so right in his assessment of the job market. A glance at the Appointments section of The TES reveals pages and pages of ads for heads and deputies. The vicar's optimism, however, may have been somewhat misplaced and I need to act quickly. Breakfast can wait and I arrive at school just as the caretaker is unlocking the main gate. I know the head always arrives early and he will know the correct procedure. "Procedure for what?" he asks. It's going to be a hectic couple of months if the head, deputy and the chairman of governors are all going to leave at the end of term.

Dennis Ruston, a former head, lives near Sleaford, Lincolnshire

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