16th June 2000 at 01:00
Brenda Roe finds her first encounter with an inspector a surprisingly pleasant experience

WELL, the dreaded inspector doesn't have cloven hooves after all - which was a bit of a disappointment. You're led to expect a devil in disguise and you get the Werthers Original toffee grandad. He came into school to collect the head's carefully-prepared documents, explain the process and "gather information".

The most important people that he met were probably not the teachers - who will have their classes inspected in less than a fortnight - but the parents. I am sure the hall would have been packed with enthusiastic mums and dads, if only the weather had been better.

As it was Mr Werther faced about 50 of them, most of whom had come to praise, not to bury, which, if not exactly a surprise, was a relief to those of us governors who slipped in in the guise of parents.

There were obviously complaints, butwe have faith that the toffeeman will be able to distinguish the personal, one-off gripes, from the whole-school grievance.

They mainly came down to one thing: mixed age classes. And we can't do much about this when we have a limited number of classrooms and the authority sends us 39 pupils for one year.

Mr Werther seemed quite pleased, even going so far as saying he had rarely chaired such an informative parents meeting. So at least the parents did their bit, and I know we can rely on the teachers.

He also had less welcome news. Apparently this whole thing could drag through the summer, as the full report comes out two days after we break up for the holidays.

He had an endearing belief that the Office for Standards in Education would sort this problem out and we would not suffer in any way. It seems a bit late for that.

The author is chair of governors at an inner-city primary

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