The chief inspector goes back to school

10th October 2003 at 01:00
Next week, David Bell visits the 320-pupil Powers Hall junior school and speech and language unit in Essex, where he was once deputy head.

Headteacher Suzanne Bartley invited him soon after he was appointed chief inspector; the October visit was scheduled last term.

"It's really a trip down memory lane," says Mrs Bartley. "We're treating it very much as that. We want it to be lighthearted, more of a social visit than him with his chief inspector's hat on." No staff members remain from his time there, although two of the office staff have children once taught by him.

The chief inspector will stay for two-and- a-half hours, meet the school council and have a lunch prepared by staff. Powers Hall was inspected last summer, and received a very positive report. Behaviour management is a strength at the school ("outstandingly effective", said the inspectors), and Sats results have risen. "I think it's a much more successful school now - not that it has anything to do with his departure - and it will be interesting to hear what he thinks," says Mrs Bartley.

The staff are not making any special preparations, despite being "thrilled to bits", in the words of the head. "We like the way Ofsted is going and think he's very aware of what it's like to be in school, and the difficulties we all face. We're seeing the visit as a great honour, but we're not going to do any special preparations. It's more a question of what do you think of us now?"

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