A Day in the Life of a Class Rep
Tracy Wyner, 47, on running with Labradors and avoiding cake.
I’m the first one up in our house, so I slide quietly out of bed leaving my husband to grab a few more precious minutes, and head down to the kitchen. Our eight-year-old chocolate Labrador, Baylie, is always pleased to see me – because she knows I’ll give her a biscuit while I’m having a cup of tea.
I get Toby, 13, and Chloe, 18, up at 7.15. They both attend Caterham School, an independent co-ed in Surrey. We used to walk, but lugging all the books and sports kits around became too much, especially as there’s a steep hill on the way, so now the journey to school is done by car. When I was the driver it was always Chloe who was late. I’d be standing at the bottom of the stairs nagging her to come down. However, last year Chloe passed her driving test. Now that she’s the designated driver who needs to find a parking space, a miracle has happened. She’s the one who’s ready on time, shouting up the stairs to Toby… I always find it amazing how family life continues to change like this.
Once I’ve seen the kids set for the day and off on their way, I’ll take a cup of tea back to bed for half an hour, read the news, check my emails – seeing to anything that needs attention. By this time my husband, who works from home a lot, will be busy working away. I’m on the school PTA and this year I’m running the Summer Ball – chasing up auction prizes, working out table plans and catering requirements. We’ve got 650 people coming, so it’s a big job. It’s become easier since we signed up to Classlist. Being able to communicate so easily with the parents helps us to discover their hidden skills. When I put up a post asking for auction prizes one parent offered a day’s motorbike hire! One of my friends has a child in his child’s class and although she knows him, she’d had no idea that he was into biking.
I get those emails answered quickly because I know that by 8.30am I’ll want to get outside! I used to be a PE teacher and I still do as much exercise as I can, every day. I stopped working when Chloe was born. It would have been great to carry on a part-time basis, but the role involves a lot of extra-curricular events and fixtures and the hours just didn’t work for us as a family. Whatever choices parents make, juggling the balance of work and home is tricky. Being at home does make it easier for me to get involved with the school. I have the flexibility to attend meetings and take on PTA responsibilities – fitting them around other demands on my time. What’s good for working parents now is that when they join Classlist they can become part of the school community online and get to know other parents. Caterham School has boarders, whose parents who live abroad, and their parents have signed up to Classlist and become part of the community, too. Even if parents don’t have much spare time, or live at a distance from the school, they can find out what’s going on and contribute ideas.
I’m never put off by the weather. After quickly tidying away breakfast, I go for a run with Baylie. There are beech woods 200 metres from the house. I’m faster than Baylie is, but she likes to be in front, so on a narrow path she’ll be snuffling at my heels, trying to edge me out of the way. If she does get in front, I end up tripping, or trying to leapfrog over her.
As I jog back I go through all the things that need doing, so I can walk through the door and get on with them. Then I’m out again to meet my friend Jane at the gym. I want to tone up so I can wear a knock-out dress to the Summer Ball! I’m also trying to eat more healthily. Jane and I have a personal trainer who makes us do extra press-ups if we eat cake.
I met Jane through the school. Her son is in the same year as Chloe. We moved to Caterham when Chloe was in Year Two, which is one of the reasons I joined the PTA. I wanted to make friends. Working together to achieve something for the school creates strong bonds. One of my good friends is the current Chair. As our children are growing up we are beginning to think about life ‘after school’. We’ve said a few times that we should start a company together – maybe in event planning. We know we work well together and we’ve proved we can run successful events. No one should underestimate the skills you gain on the PTA!
By the end of a gym session it’s time to go to school and pick up Toby. Chloe stays later than him and drives herself home when she’s ready. I make supper while Toby does his homework in the kitchen, where I can see him. He’ll only do what he has to do. Chloe’s studying for her A-levels, so she works much harder. When she comes in she disappears into the dining room, which is covered with her books. I haven’t seen the surface of that table for months.
Even in the evenings I’m in and out, usually taxiing the children to clubs. Chloe and I used to play on a netball team together, but that’s on hold until her exams are over. Some nights Toby has clubs – sport or CCF – and other nights he spends the evening on the Ipad, glued to Youtube. He says it’s vital that he watches it because people become billionaires on Youtube. Recently, he created – and posted – his first video. It was a class assignment to invent a sketch in a restaurant and act it out…in Italian. I’ve been told to watch because he needs to increase his subscriber numbers. I don’t think it’s going to make him a billionaire.
On rare nights in we all like sitting in the lounge and watching Broadchurch. We’ll try to get Baylie to come and sit with us, but she’s very anti-social for a Labrador. She’ll walk past us slowly, get a pat on the head from everybody, and then go back to lie on the heated floor in the kitchen.
By 10.30pm, Toby’s in bed, Chloe’s usually ready to go upstairs and my husband is locked away, working. I have half an hour to myself – answering emails, checking Classlist or reading a biography. That’s my little bit of down time, just before I go to sleep!