In a school near you

Stephen Petty

The Olympics may be in Britain, but I suspect busy teachers are still unaware of just how close they are to some of the Games. Many of them may even be unwitting participants. So here's a brief guide to what's on, probably at a school known to you:

The opening ceremony - the sharply cut video of results-day celebrations (set to rock music) that now launches your September Inset day. This year, in line with the London 2012 opening ceremony, the video will also feature images of cheery, rosy-cheeked pupils skipping through the sun-dappled meadows as they merrily bunk off school and picnic on lashings of vodka and cider. For as your head will doubtless say: "It's not all about exam results, you know."

The Olympic rings - the rings represent the five continents of education all linking together in a joyful spirit of cooperation and friendly competition - namely, the pupil, parent, teacher, school bus driver and the bloke who comes to fix the leak in the roof.

Synchronised inspecting - a new event in which one inspection team tries to write exactly the same report as another. Tribal inspections probably begin as favourites after their nifty cut-and-paste job recently. Spectators, however, will surely be looking for even tighter report harmonisation now that the sport has been officially recognised.

Dressage - once a quaint pursuit known only to the horse world, dressage is now a key and well-established feature of the games played in schools. Exam dressage, in particular, is now essential for any school hoping to maintain league table respectability.

Archery - now one of the most challenging of school Olympic sports. Not only do the targets keep moving but the scores in each area keep changing, too.

Canoe slalom - cancelled this year. There are just too many creeks and not enough paddles, and in any case no one seems to know the precise route of these fast-changing courses (see Archery).

Gymnastics - gold medals are still on offer here but are now valueless. Gym is just not EBac-rigorous enough. Proper sports such as running, swimming, riding and pistol shooting are useful disciplines to master, whereas the world is now far too competitive a place for the leotard, the mat and the pommel horse.

Fencing - once thought to be a largely irrelevant event but now rated highly by Ofsted. A strong fence is fundamental before you can even think of passing as a strong school.

Postmodern pentathlon - a popular pre-class competition. Points are awarded for securing a parking space, finding some milk not too pungent for a cup of tea, getting an early place in the photocopier queue, time taken to deal with the morning inbox (mass culling not permitted) and plausibility of the enthusiasm shown for arrival of the first class.

Marathon - listen out for your line manager using this word at some point towards the end of term. As in, "In this year of the Olympics, it feels as if we really have run an especially tough marathon."

Closing ceremony - the end-of-year gathering in the staffroom to hear goodbye speeches from those who are leaving. Just when you thought the marathon was over ...

Stephen Petty is head of humanities at Lord Williams's School in Thame, Oxfordshire.

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Stephen Petty

Stephen Petty is head of humanities at Lord Williams's School in Thame, Oxfordshire. 

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