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Chalkdust lust

OBSESSIVE OFSTED inspector falls for the sex-goddess head of a failing school. A familiar scenario? No, thought not.

But who cares? The Inspector and the Superhead - perhaps the first of a new literary genre, the mortarboard-ripper - will probably find its way into all sorts of Christmas stockings.

It's certainly got novelty value: it has to be the first romance to mention the Schools Inspection Act anywhere, let alone on page 13. There's the inventive (but probably not OFSTED-approved) use of a ruler. There's the fun of spotting the rather unsubtle similarities between the fictional school from hell and it real-life predecessor, The Ridings. Any pupils who fork out pound;10.99 will giggle themselves silly.

But more is needed to recruit and retain heads than an inspector with a glint in his (or her) eye. Researchers want more funding for school support staff after discovering heads so overloaded with administration that they spend just four minutes a day with pupils. Even Warwickshire principals treated to a stress-busting break knew they'd have to make up the time later.

The fictional Superhead's secret is her excellent support staff. It shouldn't be fiction. Every hard-working head deserves the same.

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