The DfES spent pound;636,420 on entertaining visitors last year. Cucumber sandwiches, cups of tea, the odd bottle of Beaujolais...
"As well as can be expected, headmaster, but you've set me quite a task."
"I know, Daphne. But The TES said the DfES spent pound;636,420 on entertainment last year."
"What, educational fact-finding tours abroad? That sort of thing?"
"Oh no, that comes out of an entirely different pot. This is simply for entertaining visitors at the DfES. Cucumber sandwiches, cups of tea, the odd bottle of Beaujolais..."
"That's an awful lot of money, headmaster."
"It is, isn't it? Presumably they put a lot of cucumber in the sandwiches.
Anyway, if they're spending that much, entertaining must be a crucial element of education. And we must follow their wisdom. How are things going?"
"Well, the inspector's still sitting in the staffroom."
"And you're looking after him?"
"As you suggested, I pointed him in the direction of the sherry. He's smiling a lot. And he keeps falling off the chair. Oh, and I'm afraid there's no sherry left..."
"Jolly good. That's got rid of a few bob. Added bonus, too: he won't be going round the classrooms irritating everybody. Shame we haven't got an Ofsted. We could have flattened the entire team. What about the governors'
"I bought some new crockery, headmaster. Bone china. Harrods' best. I bought some new teaspoons, too. Solid silver. And I could make them some snacks. Canapes, vol-au-vents, cheeses..."
"Splendid! Get a catering team in to do it. Got to entertain them properly.And what about all the other visitors we have? Ed psychs, students, welfare officers, Inset lecturersI?"
"I've ordered Earl Grey, jasmine, Assam, Darjeeling, and 15 varieties of coffee. But headmaster, don't you think..."
"Good, good, we're getting there. Give 'em all a hamper from Fortnum and Mason as well. Perhaps we could do something for the parents at next week's open evening? What about a barrel of real ale and a bucket of chicken nuggets? And sticky buns for the children?"
"I'll make a note of it, headmaster. Now, I really must get on. The firemen will be here any minute to talk to Year 6."
"I'd forgotten about the firemen. They're bound to be thirsty after taking Year 6. Better get in half a dozen crates of lager, Daphne."
"Is that a good idea? Health and safety..."
"Hmm. Probably not. They'll be spraying their hoses all over the place.
Make it Lucozade and a couple of hot dogs each. Now then Daphne, tot that little lot up and tell me how we're doing."
"It comes to, um, pound;900, headmaster."
"Damn, is that all? How does the DfES do it? They've spent seven hundred times as much as us."
"I wonder, headmaster... it's just an idea, of course... couldn't we go back to giving everybody the standard cup of tea, and then spend the money we save on the children? You know, musical instruments or something like that?"
"Good idea, Daphne, I never thought of that! Perhaps the DfES hasn't thought of it either. I'll give them a ring. It could start a new trend."
Mike Kent is head of Comber Grove primary, London borough of Southwark.