Ancient grudge rouses Pandas

30th June 2006 at 01:00
Just exactly who are the Fischer family? One or two old local families have haunted schools for generations, of course. But the arrival of the new and mysterious Fischers mean every teacher in the country now faces the same looming, invisible yet awesome presence.

When I first heard of this family, with that trust thing going for them, my image was of a wholesome household bestowing goodness and happiness on the world. Maybe they conjured up childhood associations - Fisher-Price toys, or Jeremy Fisher of the Beatrix Potter tale. Then I attended a meeting about the school's exam results and realised that I hadn't even got the spelling right.

The Fischers in question turn out to be the first family in history to be famous for analysing test data - unless you count the cute-sounding but beastly Pandas.

The Pandas, of course, have always been a law unto themselves, but we should surely worry about the welfare of the Fischer household. They've devoted their lives to exam-data collection, so you do wonder where it all went wrong for them. What happened to sibling pillow-fights, the dressing-up box, to family holidays? Must it really be all spreadsheet formulas and conditional formatting from cradle to grave for a newborn Fischer?

Besides, many data observers doubt there is going to be enough room in the exam-analysis town for both the Pandas and the Fischers. Both families assuredly know it. Police are already preparing for Bank Holiday trouble this August when members of the two rival data dynasties are expected to be heading to the seaside to slug it out over who controls the analysis of this summer's results. It promises to be the ugliest spreadsheet-based brawl recorded.

I asked two usually well-informed colleagues what else they knew of the Fischer family. One claimed that they were an affluent sect of devout, polygamous Americans who had been hoodwinked into funding an Ofsted mission to "help add value" to the lives of children in Britain. The other countered that the Fischers were really a dysfunctional family of Romford chavs who had won a lottery rollover - half their winnings were devoted to buying various Mediterranean properties and the rest was ring-fenced for exam-data analysis.

Both colleagues were lying. I have since learned that a Mike Fischer from RM Computers is behind it all. How dull an answer is that? I rather wish I hadn't asked the question.

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