Libby, 11, is in charge of school

RICHARD BATSON The 11-year-old girl sat at her desk chewing sweets, her sparkly painted nails dancing over the laptop keyboard, playing on-line dressing-up fashion games.


The 11-year-old girl sat at her desk chewing sweets, her sparkly painted nails dancing over the laptop keyboard, playing online dressing-up fashion games.

Normally such behaviour would have landed Libby Rusbridge in trouble. But not yesterday, because she was head of the school.

Her parents had paid £160 for the privilege in an auction of promises, which also saw real headteacher Keith Dickens join pupils in the classroom for lessons.

Libby helped take morning assembly in front of 250 pupils at the Bure Valley junior school in Aylsham. It spelled out her rules for the day when children could get away with eating normally-banned sweets and chocolate, and not having their shirts tucked in.

She walked around the school, checking on lessons, including "showing Mr Dickens what he had to do", and ensuring all was well in the kitchen, playground, and "workroom" where pupils are sent to catch up on things not achieved in lesson time.

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Back in the office, Libby dealt with newsletters advertising the school's forthcoming fireworks display fundraiser on November 5, while munching sweets, and logging on to a virtual fashion boutique game.

After dealing with a queue of children with queries at lunchtime, she refereed an afternoon netball game, before sending the children home at 3.15pm without any homework - another of her rules for the day.

Libby, dressed in a smart jacket instead of the usual red sweatshirt, admitted she was too nervous to take the assembly on her own "with all the teachers there", but that the day had been "great fun".

Normally on a Monday morning she would be tackling maths, literacy and science rather than enjoying confectionery and computer games.

"The children liked it too," she added. And a chorus of youngsters in the playground agreed at lunchtime.

"We get to eat sweets," said Ellie Higham, while Ben Wright added: "You can tell off the teachers for nagging."

Mr Dickens - or Keith as he was called in class all day by the teachers - said he had enjoyed the swap too.

"Some of the staff were a bit uncomfortable with the rule changes - thinking it would be anarchy. But it's a bit of fun for a day.

"I thoroughly enjoyed being in the classroom and seeing school from a pupil's point of view. The maths lesson was fun - as we worked out who had made the most profit on some share prices."

He was also amazed by the price the day had fetched at the auction, which raised £8,000 towards a £100,000 "space" appeal to provide some new classrooms.

"I thought it would make £5-£10, so £160 was amazing - I would pay that not to do the job for a day," he joked.

The next event in the appeal is a piano recital at the parish church at 1pm on November 29 by Christopher Green-Armytage.

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