Thank God it's Friday

5th September 1997 at 01:00
Monday: There's a package in the post with a red sticker on it. Fragile. Handle With Care. Perhaps I should make some badges that bear the same message since it's how we're all feeling. We've had six weeks of summer to contemplate the beginning of term and our first OFSTED inspection. Why does "the role of the head" produce visions of the guillotine?

Last term we had a pre-OFSTED advisory visit and when Gemma was asked if she did any role play, she replied by demonstrating a somersault on the classroom carpet.

Ashley has a male teacher for the first time. Group names aren't flowers or insects any more. "I don't wanna be a wart-hog," he tells his mum, indignantly. A gangly junior, new to the school, has been invited to play football at playtime. "It was brilliant," he tells his teacher. "They let me join in. I was the goalpost."

Tuesday: The Year 1 teacher accidentally throws her handbag into the wastepaper bin. Then she gathers the class on the carpet for the register but is overcome by a wave of nausea. She tells the class she's not feeling well and they slowly shuffle to a safe distance as one whispers reassurance to the others: "We'll be OK if she doesn't puke."

Afterwards it's assembly and I'm talking about our colourful world and invite the children to name things which are red. The usual examples are given - blood, fire, post-boxes - followed by school custard, a rash of football team shirts, and finally, from a child in the front row, "the veins in your eyes".

Wednesday: I encounter a stranger in the playground. "Where's the sec's office?" he asks, in a strong American accent. It's not going to be an easy day. Sure enough, I'm marking a class register and Becky has brought in a collection of earwigs. Somehow they escape among the sandwich boxes and I know we'll have extra slow eaters at lunchtime.

Thursday: A letter about the new professional qualification for headteachers advises me that if my appetite to become a trainer is "wetted" I should send my CV. Presumably it won't be "vhetted" for spelling mistakes.

Meanwhile, a parent has written to say Kelly didn't learn her spellings at home because she didn't "recive" them. I advise the teacher to concentrate on "ie" words next week.

Friday: We're collecting bubble packaging for our OFF-STRESS party when the inspectors have gone. It's great for venting the feelings. The larger the bubbles, the better. When they're all squeezed at once they're like firecrackers.

We still have a slight problem, however. A statuette was stolen from our main entrance lobby some years ago, and with our denominational inspection also due, St Mary's is now advertising for a virgin. Any offers?

Luke Darlington is head of St Mary's Church of England Primary School, Yate, Bristol

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