Thoroughly modern bunnies

18th April 2003 at 01:00
Easter approaches and we look forward to the break. Chickens, bunnies and painted eggs used to abound at this time of year in infant classes in primary school.

But now, with strands and outcomes to be addressed in the expressive arts, chances are that teachers will slog away at being artistically creative about "The Technology of Toys" and "Houses and Homes" right up to the end of term. Even in nursery, the Easter bunny is likely to be part of a computer program on number.

Included in our assembly next week will be an item on "Stories about our Easter Holidays". These must be based on children's hopes and expectations, and I will be interested to hear how they intend to spend their time.

I doubt if many will be jetting off to sunnier climes, as that usually happens shortly before the end of the summer term or just after we come back to school in August.

We have enjoyed looking out at the recent unseasonably sunny weather as we wrote and read pupil reports but the early arrival of stinging insects in the playground has not been welcome. Traditionally, Easter does not include such problems and it is hard to guess what the temperature will be when we down tools for the holidays.

I have developed the recent habit of waking around 5am with my brain racing to meet the challenge of a 12-hour day. I have no intention of changing that habit, now that I am persuaded of the benefits of a 60-hour working week.

I will use the break to work on the home development plan, first carrying out an audit of the quality of the environment, including taking a closer look at some specific aspects.

I will draw up a list of priorities with time-scale and estimated costs. I anticipate some resistance from my husband when I present the plan for him to action, but will dismiss protests that he has already identified his priorities and that the combined list is now too long, that my time-scale is unrealistic and the budget too tight.

I will point out that, although we are, of course, in partnership, my priorities are clearly local improvement objectives, while his could be described as merely maintenance.

The time-scale should not present problems, now that there are more daylight hours for him to work in the evenings. Savings will have to be found from some budget - perhaps not employing a gardener, as he suggested we should, might save some cash.

I will be reviewing my target of being slimmer and fitter by Easter and acknowledge that it will have to be carried forward to the summer holidays.

The implementation strategy was the problem. I had decided in January to introduce thrice-weekly aerobic exercise into my sedentary lifestyle and my husband was dispatched to buy a step machine. When I asked why the suggested cheap model had been rejected, he informed me that it would not have borne his weight.

To date the expensive one has never borne his weight and mine only once, because of the faulty electronic counter. How is it possible to step until you want to die, for at least three minutes, and to have used up only five calories?

I will definitely be continuing with my physio exercises to alleviate the tendinitis in my right arm. No doubt the memory will fade of my headteacher colleagues' laughter when I hinted at a sports injury and their reference to repetitive strain injury, while miming a glass being raised.

I will also take the opportunity of carrying out some continuing professional development in the Easter break. I will be boning up on topics of conversation for Fridays when I join pupils in the dining room at the Golden Table.

I will be able to dazzle them with slick references to anything from Fimbles to Fun Loving Criminals, as they munch away at their jam or chocolate spread sandwiches, green sticks of unidentifiable material and origin, chocolate bars and chocolate mousse, all attractively shrink-wrapped or packaged and advertised as ideal for packed lunch boxes.

On the other hand, I may introduce an element of flexibility and do bugger all.

Joan Fenton is headteacher of Dyce primary school in Aberdeen.

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