Don's Diary

October 20, 1995

Sunday. To church with family (Enid, four, and James, two) as usual. Support for coming week gleaned from hymn "Forth in thy name O Lord I go, my daily labours to pursue". Today's daily labours involve welcoming 17-year-old German lad, Jens, into our home for three weeks while he attends language school in Bristol. He is the eldest son of my own German penfriend. Prepare tomorrow's tea for the children.

Monday. Take Jens to language school on the bus. Continue into faculty for union appointment with colleague who feels very at risk from compulsory redundancy because of what he perceives as management's lack of commitment to his subject area.

Fear that he could be right, so I explain options on diversification of work, voluntary severance etc. Contacted by second colleague who has problems with her pension contributions. Teachers Pension Agency wish her to make lump sum payment of Pounds 6,000 into the fund within the next six weeks to cover arrears. Panic.

I arrange immediate interview with the head of personnel services at the main campus (five miles away) to discuss how the university might be able to help with this.

I return home on two buses, stuff food down the children, bath and put them to bed, spruce up for 7pm rendezvous, accompanied by husband, at the vice chancellor's home where governors are having an informal supper in a marquee in his garden.

All guests puzzled by the command to wear "informal but warm" clothing until the v-c appears, clad in open necked shirt and red blazer - red worn in my honour, he tells me.

Tuesday. Leave husband at home writing to University of Leeds to order blazer. Commandeer car to drive to distant college, after dropping children at school and nursery, for third access to teaching final marks moderation meeting in five days. Few problems this year, thank God, apart from some continuing difficulties in understanding that we boringly have to insist on GCSE equivalence in maths and English for their students as laid down by the Department for Education and Employment. Husband out at full council meeting. Pick son up from nursery at 12.30pm, put him to bed for afternoon rest, prepare tea (vegetarian, to suit babysitter), which I shall not get back in time to eat. At 3pm son and I fetch daughter from school, return home to find Jens and babysitter have effected entry via front-room window. Leave children with babysitter to return to faculty for 3.30pm Natfhe/manage-ment initial teacher education negotiating committee. Much anger and frustration, return home late, children fast asleep, weep most of the evening, resolve to write management a stiff letter.

Wednesday. By train to last distant college for access to teaching final marks meeting. More worries than yesterday - staff restructuring (ie substitution of part-time for full-time tutors) in the college has apparently led to some loss of continuity, expertise and knowledge, but not commitment, within course team. What does anyone expect? I give brief exposition of the "pattern of teacher training today" which appears to reassure them. Attempt to look up principal who is out. Return to faculty for afternoon to shift mail, edit book, deal with two failing personal tutees, write and send stiff letter to management. Meat pies from freezer for tea. Spend evening knitting son's birthday jumper and writing leaving speech for departing dean of faculty.

Thursday. To faculty on bus. Process all successful access students. Deal with failed access students who feel they should have passed, access tutors who query GCSE equivalence for maths (yet again) etc. Home early to look after children while husband attends education committee meeting. Cauliflower cheese for tea. Bath and put children to bed singlehanded.

Friday. To faculty on bus. Induction morning for successful access students - culmination of year's work. Twenty-one people arrive, all "fond of children" and keen as mustard to join the teacher education programme in the autumn. Pray that they cannot hear the tiredness in my voice, that they find my little jokes amusing and am truly thankful for the inspiration they can still give me.

Failed first-year tutee visits for lengthy counselling/advice session in the afternoon. Fix her up with careers advice appointment - clearly no hope of becoming a primary school teacher. Home in time for tea - pork chops - children call to father as I walk through the front door: "Daddy, Daddy, this is Mummy!" Saturday. Washing.

A staff governor, chair of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education branch and the faculty of education's access coordinator at the University of the West of England.

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