In a Class of His Own Online - Georgia Hill

Chapter One

One Year Previously.

You could cut the tension in the staff room with a knife. We all sat around staring at one another aghast. The news that the head teacher had gone on stress leave only one week before the beginning of the academic year had obviously come as a huge shock to everyone. Angus Fairweather, the Chair of Governors, went on to explain that the Local Authority was putting in one of their inspectors to tide the school over and – more ominously – to raise standards. Whilst he continued to talk, explaining how valued everyone was and what a good job he was sure we would do in welcoming the new headmaster, I looked around at my new colleagues. It was the first time I’d met most of them, although I’d bumped into one or two of them over the last couple of days when I’d been getting my classroom ready. They hadn’t been particularly friendly then and my heart sank further as I looked around now. It was a big school and the room was crowded.

I knew Mona Thompson, the school administrator, she’d let me in over the Summer holidays and seemed to live permanently at the school. An energetic woman in I would guess her late fifties, she had a cast iron grey hairdo, a permanent frown etched on her brow and a disapproving air which emanated from her in waves of frosty disdain. Sitting next to me was Ann Leigh, one of the Reception class teachers. She’d been in school over the last few days with me and we’d chatted a bit but, as we were working at opposite ends of the building and in different year groups, I doubted if I’d see that much of her. She was a tall, slender blonde – reserved and rather aloof. Opposite me was Tony Sexton, my fellow Year Six teacher and the Deputy Head. He’d seemed friendly enough today and was the only person in the room who was visibly relaxed. A short man, the wrong side of fifty, he didn’t look as if he had a care in the world – very strange considering the news just announced.

Everyone else, as was common in primary schools, was female. Judging from appearances most were in the later stages of their careers. As Angus Fairweather left the room there was an instant outburst of fevered whispers. No one talked directly to me so I sat there miserably alone, hearing snippets of what was being said.

… some whiz kid from the local authority …

… only in his thirties …

… what does he know of the job? Not dry behind the ears …

… coming in here, changing everything …

Tony Sexton grinned at me lazily and raised his eyebrows as he sipped from his mug of coffee. He didn’t appear to be the sort of bloke who got ruffled over anything. He might be an ally. I smiled back and then caught an icy stare from Mona Thompson. I looked down quickly.

I felt so alone and thought longingly back to the school I’d left in July. I’d taught there ever since qualifying. I knew everyone and everyone knew me. Over the years I’d got to know lots of the families sending children to the school and it had been lovely teaching the various brothers and sisters. I had become a permanent fixture, I was the one who always knew where everything was. Even though the school was in the middle of a tough South London housing estate, it had a closely-knit community and I’d loved teaching there. They’d all be swapping holiday stories now, the staff room alive with chatter. Bev, the head teacher, would be breaking out the Kit-Kats and making them all laughs with stories of her little boy.

I felt tears prickling and swallowed. I looked down at my academic diary through blurred eyes. I missed them all so badly – but I’d made my decision to move in with my parents and was lucky to pick up this temporary contract at Longview Primary, in rural Herefordshire. I just hoped it would get better.

Living at home had proved more difficult than I’d imagined. Mum and Dad’s retirement bungalow was a reasonable size and I had an ensuite room and the use of the room next door as a sitting room come study but it was hardly private. I smiled briefly as I remembered how, late last night, Dad had poked his head around the door, without knocking and had proffered a