“Mr Convery,” 14, takes charge at Stalham High School

It's tough at the top - as Stalham High pupil Reuben Convery discovered when he took over as head teacher for the day.

Reuben, 14, had promised both himself and the usual head, Melinda Derry, that he would leave the school a better place after his taste of power on Friday.

And he finished a day of meetings, greeting visitors, phone calls and emails with 'some definite, some maybe' plans to improve the school toilets.

'There's been a bit of vandalism in the toilets and they were unpleasant to use - I don't want to go into detail,' explained Reuben, wearing a suit and sitting in the head teacher's office.

His ideas included patching up decorative damage and asking GCSE art students to decorate the walls.


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More effective hand-driers and air fresheners were also on Reuben's list, together with the possibility of playing soft music in the toilets.

'Probably classical - we don't people to be in there rocking out all night,' he added thoughtfully.

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Break time was spent on duty, checking for litter and making sure pupils' uniforms were correct, and at lunchtime he was in Stalham High Street to ensure schoolchildren were 'behaving as they should.'

Reuben also found time to discuss teachers' plans to revamp their staff room and another of his ideas, introducing times-table quizzes into lessons.

And in the afternoon he had the pleasant duty of handing over a large cheque to the music department, representing half the proceeds of a joint venture between the school and Stalham Players earlier this year when they performed The Railway Children, in which Reuben played Peter, one of the three children at the centre of the drama.

Reflecting on his day as head, Reuben said he had enjoyed being called 'Sir' and 'Mr Convery', by staff and pupils alike.

He added: 'It's an amazing job but at the end I'll be exhausted. A lot of effort goes into it - I don't think I could keep it up. The amount of preparation Ms Derry puts into it gives me even more respect for teachers - they all deserve a medal.'

Ms Derry said Stalham High took student leadership seriously and wanted to give students responsibility for putting their opinions into practice and the chance to learn skills which would help them later as leaders and managers of change in the workforce.

Reuben would find the role easier and harder than he imagined: 'He will be able to say that there are things he wants to have happen, but he is also going to have to learn to plan, consult and collaborate,' she said.

'He has to leave the school a better place than he found it so that his day as head teacher leaves a legacy behind him from which we will all benefit. He's set himself the task of improving our school toilets, and I've no doubt that he will.'

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