Thank God it's the holidays

21st August 1998 at 01:00
Monday: The pleasure of staying in bed during the holidays is sublime - just stretching awake to the sound of Sue MacGregor. Pity the news item I wake to is all about the initiative on appropriate physical restraint for unruly children. A classroom flashback jolts me into reality. Helen is a pupil whose one aim is to torment the emotionally fragile. Last term she received a shock when one of the tormented thumped her. The teacher separated them with speed and minimum force, but we await parental complaint.

Tuesday: News today that each school has been given Pounds 800 for security measures. Totally inadequate - we spent Pounds 2,000 on closed-circuit TV last year. (And the secretary in our infant school had her bag stolen the day after it was installed. The police weren't interested because the picture quality was too poor.) Two days of the holidays waking up to school news items - it must get better.

Wednesday: Another school item, but so strange even the grumpy John Humphrys sounds amused. The Professional Association of Teachers wants students to prove they like children before they become teachers. This would decimate the teaching profession.

I'm reluctantly coming to believe the only way I can switch off from school is to avoid all news programmes, but as a news-junkie this is too much.

Thursday: Is it always like this but I just don't usually notice? Estelle Morris is naming and shaming local education authorities that exclude too many children. Portsmouth currently languishes at the bottom of the exclusion league table, having excluded 45 out of 10,000. Should I feel shamed because I almost excluded a girl for repeated violent behaviour, or virtuous for the time I closely supervised her in school because her father was rushed into hospital in the middle of the night? Education, education, education!

Friday: I wake full of anticipation. Will we get the full set, every day with a negative news slant on education? I'm on my fourth slice of toast before it comes: Calderdale LEA - home of the infamous Ridings School - has six weeks to improve or a hit squad will be sent in. That's it - five days, five less-than-positive education stories. No wonder graduates are not flooding in to join us. In a country where the national sport is teacher-bashing, the only way to get away from it all is to go to another part of the world - Tuscany perhaps?

Bob Aston is head of a primary school in Kent.

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