Monthly Archives: March 2020

Part 2: The Only Girl in School

Week two of lockdown seemed to appear out of nowhere, and was an hour early thanks to British Summertime adding to the problem. Frankie picked up her packed lunch and joined her mum in the car. The lunchbox was a novelty in itself, as the kitchen staff had been sent home to self-isolate, meaning that pizza and roastie days were struck off the menu and chocolate concrete was soon to become a distant memory.

Mrs Butterworth greeted Frankie and her mum at the door, letting Frankie do the two metre dance around her as the head teacher mumbled to her mum through an elbow.
“Hmmm, I won’t push it with the cartwheel down the corridor just yet – she looks a bit stressy.” thought Frankie, “I’ll just check later that she’s still bending the school rules.”
She clasped her hands behind her back and did the silent walk, whilst trying to hang onto her lunchbox with one finger, and all the while looking back for Mrs Butterworth’s approval. She needn’t have bothered – Mrs B was frantically wiping down the door handles with the last of the mediwipes and her brow was no less furrowed than five minutes ago.

“Hi Frankie!”
Yay – it was Miss Coghlan, who having taught her in year one knew her as ‘Tiny Frankie’ and was ready to reminisce about their infant days. Looking around the year six classroom, Frankie knew that the idle banter would soon be ending as she spotted a refilled year four folder and Miss Williams organising the day’s packed agenda. The flipchart of doom had no mercy – Mondays were Mondays, and Miss Williams would take a while to get cancelled SATs out of her head space. Her pen was practically on fire with the educational menu being written out in perfect cursive lettering. Miss Coghlan joined in with feverish sharpening of pencils and setting out of chairs. Frankie sighed, placed her bag down beside her half-finished rainbow and started warming up for Joe Wicks.

The morning exercise was actually fun, and Frankie wondered why this wasn’t the usual start to any day. Although she appreciated the school values and was proud of her caring, kind, respectful and tolerant character, (as every Bells Farm child should be), she often wondered whether sitting on a hard wooden floor in the hall, trying to tune out the Velcro peelers and year six gigglers was really the best way to listen to Mr Johnston’s important messages. How much better it would be, Frankie thought, to put perseverance into action by perfecting her forward rolls while Mr J sorted out his Powerpoint. “Think I’ll mention that at School Council,” she thought, “It’ll stand more chance of getting through than all the requests for swimming pools and ‘Doughnut Fridays’.

Soon the room filled up – with boys of course. A cancellation from Rubi’s mum and all of her friends locked up with apostrophe worksheets and the threat of phone removal if they didn’t complete their six times tables in under two minutes, meant that once again, Frankie was the only girl in school. Of course, filling up was probably an exaggeration, but the two nursery boys, Zac and Joshua, plus Jacob from Year three, seemed to occupy the entire space with their racing round at the excitement of being in the year six classroom, and having free rein with the Polydron. Not for the first time, Frankie pondered the immaturity of their gender, as she flicked a discarded Haribo into the nearest pencil pot.

There seemed to be a lot of shouting going on in the corridor. Jayne, the cook, was projecting her thoughts to Mrs B at a safe distance of twenty metres and there was much talk of cheese and fridges. Frankie thought that the adults were really getting into the drama of this situation and never before had she heard such detailed health and safety discussions about the fate of a lump of Cheddar. “At least this might end up with the five thousand frozen bagels being binned at last,” she thought, shuddering at the memory of the leaden after school club snack – no amount of strawberry jam had ever succeeded in making those bad boys digestible.

As the day progressed and Frankie was allowed to be let loose with her artistic skills, the boys dwindled away and she was left with her thoughts and her pots of primary colours. Her teachers, meanwhile, debated such fascinating subjects as having family jigsaw evenings, the best box sets on Netflix, and whether or not Creme Eggs, bought in bulk, could be frozen. Frankie stared hard at her rainbow, and seriously considered adding a unicorn guarding a pot of gold in the bottom left hand corner to remind her that a little bit of fantasy could take her away from all this. They meant well, the adults, but Frankie was in a long game and the only girl in the school was about to seek her own personal adventures.

To be continued…

Part 1: The Only Girl in School

Frankie was the only girl in school.

“Amazing!” she thought. That was day one. By day three, the choice of four toilets, first pick of the carefully prepared tuna wraps and Mrs Butterworth allowing her to practise her cartwheels down the corridor, were all experiences that were wearing thin.

This was the start of something called lockdown, and as her mum was a key worker, Frankie had the privilege of being allowed to go to school every day. Singing “Happy Birthday” twice every time she and her friends washed their hands had seemed fun two weeks ago, but singing it on her own wasn’t quite the same.

Of course, there were boys as well. Seven of them to begin with, and even three more girls on day one. But they were the small sort of girl – the type who had to practise their phonics and do toddler yoga in the morning, and only wanted to watch “Frozen” in free time. At playtimes, Frankie watched Miss Williams trying to teach the small people how to work a hula hoop, and felt her despair as each of them twisted the hoops around the waists and let them fall limply to the floor. The small people also ignored personal space, and Mrs Butterworth spent her day backing away from them to the required two metre distance if they even looked like they were about to sneeze. Mrs Butterworth was worried you see, being elderly, and Frankie wasn’t sure if she was over seventy, especially when the light caught her face at the wrong angle. She just knew that she was quite old and Mrs Butterworth was also concerned about her own mother, who had to be at least a hundred by now.

To be fair, at least she didn’t have to accompany small boys to the toilet like the bigger boys did. When they came back telling Mrs Butterworth that the soap was running out, Frankie thought that the head teacher might faint. Instead, she signalled wildly towards the gents toilet, muttering that no male staff were in today. Frankie was beginning to think that this was a sign of things to come, that every conversation was going to be about germs, safety and this pesky virus. Yawn.

By the second afternoon, all of the teachers, three in total, had lightened up a bit. Miss Williams was well into the planned routines of exercise, maths, English and then art and free time. Frankie noticed that playtimes weren’t ruled by the dreaded bell and became a little longer as each day passed. Painting became a bit more free flow as well, and the teachers soon stopped interfering with her rainbow painting, even when she went over the lines which Mrs B had spent a little bit too much time getting just right. Indigo was a tricky colour to mix, if it even was a colour, and not one of the teachers had any success with finding white paint to lighten the blue, so they happily left her and Harry to it.

When Mrs Knipe and Mrs Butterworth starting foraging in teachers’ cupboards for food, a few treasures emerged which brightened up the days no end. Shrieks of delight echoed around the school, as one by one the hidden gems of choc chip cookies, custard creams and jelly sweets were uncovered, and Frankie watched in awe as her teachers morphed into pirates, throwing their stolen goods into Sainsbury’s swag bags. The leftover crisps from the Christmas parties didn’t quite reach the children as Mrs B confessed that her diet had gone out of the window and that now was a good time to fatten up in preparation for the weeks ahead. Frankie knew that toilet rolls were hard to come by and disinfectant was as rare as rubies, but she didn’t remember cheese and onion crisps being in short supply.

The Haribo actually made it as far as her three person cinema experience, and by then, the teachers were relaxed enough to throw the packets in the general direction of Frankie and the boys and get on with their tea drinking and gossiping. By the end of the week, there was less fuss about the rating of some of the films.
“PG for slightly scarey scenes? Hmmm…you don’t scare easily do you Frankie? No, thought not. On it goes!” Were these the same people who only a week ago were insisting on hands behind backs when walking single file down the corridor? Frankie thought that school was never going to be the same again, and part of her wondered whether this strange new world was a good thing or not.

To be continued…

Book Talk Corner

Hello all,

I’d love us to all get together as an online reading community while we cannot be together as a school community. Please click this link to let us know what you have been reading recently and whether you would recommend it. You can also send us a photo of your book.

I have just finished Charlie changes into a chicken and I must admit it was a very fun book. There are no chickens involved but Charlie does change into a range of interesting animals. I loved the informal style of the writing especially the footnotes at the bottom of some pages – hilarious! There’s no deep hidden meaning in this book but if you are looking for an easy, fun read then give this a try.

I’m looking forward to finding out about your reading adventures!

Miss Williams