Welcome back!

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The top five things that probably happened to you this week

Week one done. We did it. A full week. Well done everyone. We all managed to somehow set our alarm, get up, squeeze into some now ill-fitting item of clothing (because we never got round to buying a new work wardrobe) and dragged ourselves, blinking into the early morning light as we did so, into work.

Now whether you were dreading it or whether you were in fact a little bit excited about the prospect of returning to work I guarantee that one, if not all, of the following things happened to you during your first week back at school.

Number one: Your password has expired

Full of fresh ideas and invigorated by the summer you simply can’t wait to get going. You rock up to the school gates and suddenly realise that you’ve forgotten your security key. Damn it. Still you’re not alone, there’s an NQT waiting anxiously to be let it and the Head is trying to scale the fence rather than admit defeat. Finally someone comes along who is at least half-awake and you’re in. This progress however is short lived. For some reason you forgot to turn your PC off last summer and you’ve been locked out and try as you might you simply can’t remember your password. You try all the combinations it could possibly be but to no avail – luckily you wrote it in pencil underneath your desk in case of emergency – success! However once you are logged on you are immediately told to change it. Someone comes in and tells you to check your email as the inset agenda has just been sent around – something about inspiring a creative masterful mind-set within a de-radicalised society – you click on outlook only to be told that your password has expired, please re-enter your old one and then choose a new one. Sod that, you’ll just photocopy a paper version. As you join the back of the line you ask the person in front what’s taking so long? The reply: no one can remember their code for the photocopier. It’s going to be a long day.

Number two: I don’t want to know what you did last summer.

In between the inspirational inset talks, the blue sky thinking focus groups, the queues for coffee and the tussles over the laminator, people tend to chat about their summer. There’s always one though isn’t there. In between all the happy tales of sunburn, duty free and idyllic island retreats, there’s always one. One person who has had the worst holiday ever…Your passport had expired, the car wouldn’t start, the plane was delayed, the hotel wasn’t booked, the hotel was filthy, you hadn’t realised it was a hostel, the kids got shingles on the first day, the food was terrible, someone stole your travellers cheques, the sea was full of sewage, it wasn’t all inclusive, it rained, it was too hot, you were called back early, you missed your flight, you’d left the bathroom light on, squatters had moved in, you’re more tired now than when you left…well, thank goodness I asked.

Number three: The first lunch

After six weeks of brunches, liquid lunches and late night suppers, being back in school is quite a shock to the system. At about 10:00am your stomach, confused as to why it’s been active for the last four hours, begins to send your brain some very clear messages. Animal, vegetable or mineral, it doesn’t matter: just fill me. By 10:30am you can’t think of anything else. You need some food. You excuse yourself and make your way to the staff room where a host of ‘back to term treats’ had been spread out, alas, there is nothing left but crumbs. You hoover up the crumbs but it’s not enough. By 10:45am you realise that there is nothing else to do but open your lunch. Anyone looking at you tear open your sandwiches, eating yoghurt with your fingers and licking the inside of the crisp packet would be forgiven for thinking you had just relapsed after going cold turkey….sshhh, did someone say turkey?

Number four: The not so deep clean

Now, you seem to remember being told, at the end of last term, to make sure that you moved everything into the centre of the room, in preparation for the deep clean. Well you did that and every week through the holidays you popped back into school, just to see if the cleaners had been, so you could organise your classroom again before September. But each time, based on the layers of dust that had settled around the central island of book-corners and plastic drawer units, you had assumed that they still hadn’t been. By the last week, it was pretty evident that they weren’t coming, so you quickly sorted out your room and put up your new displays, smugly posting pictures of your tidy room on Instagram and Pinterest for the world to see #RaringToGo! Imagine your dismay when you walk into your classroom on Monday to find all your carefully organised pencil pots, book trays and personalised resources piled up in the middle of the carpet, your carefully negotiated tables all randomly scattered around the place and worst still, streaks of dried bleach spray running down your new maths mastery display. The caretaker wryly saying ‘Well I did warn you’ does not help, nor does the fact that every time you close the classroom door a snowstorm of dust falls on top of your head. Deep clean indeed!

Number five: Work in progress

‘We have lots of exciting developments going on over the summer’ boasted the last newsletter of the summer term. Tales of new ICT suites, adventure playgrounds, cookery stations, sports hall floors, woodland areas, additional classrooms, kitchens…left everyone feeling excited about the new lease of life that would be given to the school in September. The Head is absent for most of the inset and can occasionally be heard screaming down the phone such sentiments as ‘There’s a hole in my bloody playground the size of Gove’s ego, how exactly does that represent a service level agreement?’ On the first real day of school, all the children are ushered in via a side gate and playtimes are restricted to one class at a time because there aren’t enough hard-hats to go around. On Friday, the first newsletter ends: ‘We look forward to the new wing of our school being completed in the October half term, in the meantime our Year 6 children are really enjoying themselves taking turn sharing seats with Reception.’

Number six: Ofsted calls

Only joking. Right?

(For Kath)

3 thoughts on “Welcome back!

  1. thom gething September 12, 2015 / 2:51 pm

    No.5 happened to me a decade ago. I moved to a new school as a deputy head which had been created out of the merger of two primary schools on the same road. The politics of the merger had been very nasty; two high-achieving middle-class catchment schools with a very small, low-income catchment school in the middle. One set of governors fought a very public campaign to avoid a merger, while the other decided it would be going against the values of the school not to embrace the possibility. Anyhow, when I got the job (March) I was promised a new classroom. When I arrived the classroom was not there and I started life in a portacabin for six months. We I moved into the classroom the additional problem was my class increased from 25 to 39 within six months – but that is another story 🙂

    And the best one was when I was involved in a new start. We spent 18 months building and then the night before we opened it rained so hard that the classrooms flooded, so the first day of school all the leadership were out informing arriving parents that the start of the new school year in a new, private international school, would be delayed three days.

  2. jfb57 September 12, 2015 / 3:46 pm

    I hope you had a good one Sir & have returned bright as a pin!

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