First encounters

14th May 1999 at 01:00
Gemma Warren finds an ideal mate

We're having OFSTED in, but I'm OK about it. "Treat it like a normal week," everyone says. Fine. Uncontrollable hysteria, catastrophic teaching, and at least four crying fits. Nothing new in that. OFSTED has taken over my life. It's the only word I'm capable of saying. Even my friends, who thought OFSTED was a new kind of sexually transmitted disease, are starting to realise it's importance. "Do you want to come out tonight, Gem?" OFSTED. "How's work going?" OFSTED. "You look tired at the moment, Gemma." OFSTED. It's like the final frontier. I can't imagine anything beyond it.

On the other hand, of course, OFSTED is a brilliant excuse for being an absolute bitch, and buying loads of nice things because I've convinced myself I deserve it. "OFSTED," everyone says sympathetically. I could get used to this.

In the end I really enjoy the week, because, as I can exclusively reveal, I have a confession to make. I have fallen in love with our OFSTED inspector. And I bet you don't read that very often.

The second I saw him I knew it was perfect - I don't know why anyone hasn't thought of pairing up teachers and inspectors before. Here's a bloke who's obsessed with teaching and spends his whole life around schools. He'd never get tired of my teaching stories and he might even be able to do my marking. At the end of the first day, everyone sits down to get their lesson plans ready for the rest of the week. I rush off to buy a whole new wardrobe.

No one has ever been so keen to be inspected. "Come up and see my lesson plans," I say, hoping to look tempting even though my Year 9s are busy writing "Please get rid of Ms Warren" on the board behind me. Maybe we could develop some moral and spiritual points together. Maybe he'd like a personal tour of the bike sheds. Maybe he'd like to see my Monica Lewinsky routine with a board pen.

"You're really handling this inspection well, Gemma," says my head of department with relief. I put on my best professional attitude.

"He can inspect me any time he likes."

"That's the spirit," says my HOD approvingly.

So I'm finally on my own with him. He's talking about my lessons. I'm talking about our post-OFSTED party. He's talking about levels. I'm mentally undressing him. "So what level do you think your Year 9s are at?" he asks. I can't concentrate. "What level would you like them to be at?" He looks confused. "Six?" "Yes, please."

"Excuse me?" I make a hasty exit. Once again I have distinguished our department. Never mind, the post-OFSTED party awaits.

I arrive. Everyone's there. The problem is I can't quite find him. "Where are the inspectors?" I ask one of my friends.

"Gemma, are you mad? This is a post-OFSTED party, we're meant to be celebrating. Why do you want to see the inspectors?" I suddenly realise I've been having a slightly different OFSTED experience to everyone else. Damn. Foiled again. He'll be giving me marks out of seven, and nothing's even happened. Typical. Leonardo and Kate never had this problem.

Gemma Warren teaches at The Latymer School, Edmonton, north London

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