Half a century of horrid inspectors

4th March 2005 at 00:00
For anyone suffering the delusion that anything fundamental ever changes in education (apart from the jargon), the Diary recommends a book about life as a teacher called All this and Burnham too!

This small volume, picked up by a reader in a charity shop, was published in 1948 (its title refers to the old teachers' pay scale) but could have been written yesterday.

Author Jane Hope lives in a "flatlet" so small "you must put the chair on the table before one can open the wardrobe".

She can't afford to pay the heating bill and spends most evenings marking.

She hates parents' evenings because they degenerate into rows, and she wonders how the new-fangled child psychologists will stop Johnny "heaving bricks at the Vicar".

But most of all she dreads the inspector. "There are two kinds of inspectors: the big shots and the little bangs." Big shots (HMIs) are "quite charming" but "little bangs are an entirely different proposition...

They all clutch horrid little notebooks, and take down everything you say in shorthand-for use in evidence against you later." Plus ca change!

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