Diary of a Primary School Mum: 'Thumbs up for men – but down for school meals'

Claire's eyes are bloodshot, her cheeks are pale – she is visibly distressed. "She's been a little bit flustered," Miss Perry informs me at pick-up time, "but I think she's better now."

Was Claire shouted at, put on the naughty step, haunted by the bogey man? No, the school's annual pancake race spooked her out. My daughter plugs a thumb into each ear. "It was too noisy with everyone screaming 'lemon, lemon'. And I wanted to hold the saucepan to run with the pancake but I didn't get picked."

Ah, there's the rub! Not being picked is Claire's current bugbear and the phrase "it's not fair" gets more repeats than E4. Furthermore, Claire wanted to eat the pancake, and wasn't allowed: the perfect opportunity to rev the whole food debacle up a gear. As the twins get ready for proper school dinners after half term, the menu gets the thumbs down.

"On Monday it's lamb lasagne or cheesy pasta with leeks and green beans," I read out, "and on Tuesday it's chicken and special fried rice with broccoli." I thought the main courses sounded delicious, as did the apple pie and custard-type desserts, but the twins didn't see it this way. "I HATE lamb lasagne," said Claire. "And I don't like broccoli," Oliver added. "Well then," I said, making less effort than usual preparing their tuna sandwiches, "you're going to get very hungry."

Change gets to Claire. First the new school, then the new classroom and now the new lunches. "Will Miss Perry be there while we're eating at least?" she asked. "Maybe," I replied, "or perhaps it will be one of the other teachers." "Might Mr Pilkington be there?" asked Oliver.

I recognise very few staff members, but the reason Mr Pilkington rings a bell is that there are only two male teachers in the twins' school, a surprising statistic considering Reception has many more Josephs than Josephines.

"Is it normal for men to be such prized possessions in primary schools?" I ask my best friend who teaches in one. Despite my friend's exhaustion (her not-so-newborn is up with the larks), her tone speeds from comatose to caffeinated at the mention of the "m" word.

"Ooh," she squeals. This topic is clearly more appealing than even sleep. "Primary schools are crying out for men, but for some reason they just don't seem to want to work there. Whether it's because salaries and promotion are more restricted or simply that blokes feel out of their comfort zone working with the under-11s, you'll find that most heads are trying to redress this imbalance."

"But would kids even notice the difference?" She gawps at such ignorance. "Well, of course they would. Young boys sorely need good male role models and girls need role models of both genders."

I'm not so convinced. Oliver is a mummy's boy. Wouldn't he, given the choice, pick the fairer sex? When I ask if he'd like Mr Pilkington as his form teacher in Year One, his affirmative response is unexpected. "But you love Miss Perry," I say. "I know," he says, "but I'm a boy and he's a boy and it would be nice."

Claire loves Miss Perry even more than her brother does – surely she would always want a woman at the helm? "Would you like Mr Pilkington to be your teacher in September?" I ask. "Ooh yes," she says. "It would be wonderful." Another surprise answer! "Why do you want him so much?" She casts her five-year-old gaze upwards and sighs, "because he's sooooo handsome."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower