Teachers' tricks are a treat to watch

Talkback: you speak, we listen

The teachers at my school are stressed. They've been walking the corridors with looks of dread, feverishly plastering the walls with display work and jumping like nervous rabbits whenever the classroom door opens. I walk into my form room to see Doug writing "Death to Ofsted" on the board. Strangely, our form tutor isn't telling him to get rid of it. It's only when a smart woman with glasses and a large white visitor's label sweeps in that Doug wipes the board. It's Ofsted inspection week.

From the start, the inspection is the biggest farce I've ever seen. My history teacher used to say that when we were answering exam questions we should be like trick dogs - to get the marks just jump through the right hoops. This week my school has become a trick dog gone mad. The first assembly consists entirely of the presentation of a glut of certificates and trophies, which has never happened before.

But I'd seen nothing yet. My first "observed" lesson is French; 10 minutes in and the class sits in dumb horror. We are being blasted with the language - an unfamiliar experience as our lessons are usually in English with a smidgen of French. When the inspector leaves, Monsieur Ferguson flings himself on his desk: "Phew! Back to English then."

In biology, under the scrutiny of an elderly, stern-looking inspector, Miss Robbins dashes through the work so fast that even she isn't sure what she's talking about. The sigh of relief as she tells us to pack up is audible. She makes a grave error. It's cruel, but it has to be said. "Miss, we've got 15 minutes 'til the bell."

The funniest lesson is history. Mr Beale had the whiteboard scrubbed last week, so he is prepared. His usual teaching position - feet up on desk, leaning back in chair - is replaced by floor-pacing, gesticulations and unfunny jokes (which we assume are the result of performance-enhancing drugs). Reactions range from bewilderment to stifled snorts of amusement, except from the inspector, who nods and jots approvingly. Mr Beale says afterwards that you have to "ham it up" for the inspectors.

Last thing on Friday we have English, and because there's no further danger from roving inspectors (they've gone off to write their reports) our exhausted teacher is lying half-dead in her chair. She's given up all pretence of teaching. We're "getting on with coursework". "Tonight," she says, "I'm going to have a few drinks and sleep all weekend." I don't blame her. But by the end of the day I've made up my mind that another Ofsted inspection wouldn't be a bad thing. I feel sorry for the teachers but - after suffering under their slave-driving tendencies all year - there's a certain satisfaction in watching them squirm.

Romy Fursland

Romy Fursland is a pupil in Middlesex. The names of her teachers have been changed

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