My school faked it for the inspectors

7th February 2003 at 00:00
A pupil and teacher talk candidly about their experiences with Ofsted

A LONDON secondary pupil describes preparations for an Ofsted visit:

"Something strange was about to happen. Homework started being returned to us on time. And instead of the odd, unhelpful tick and crosses, teachers were filling our schoolbooks with constructive comments.

"Each piece of homework is now returned with a cover sheet. On the smartly-printed form, the teacher summarises our work, lists positive points and suggests how we can improve. Lessons have taken on a new dimension. Each one now has an 'objective' written on the whiteboard at the beginning of the class. Teachers stand at the front of the class, waving their hands more enthusiastically. They used to look bored, now they look nervous...

"The school has had a facelift. The entrance hall has a new carpet - a valuable teaching aid - and paintwork has been touched up. Potted plants have sprung up so quickly that even Alan Titchmarsh would be proud, and piles of bricks, that I thought were actually part of the building, have been shifted.

"Throughout classrooms and corridors, brightly-coloured wall charts and collages have been displayed. Electronic noticeboards have been installed - but not yet plugged in and we are secretly betting they will not work. Even the security guards seem more alert.

"So when the teacher asked: 'What is happening next week?' It was no surprise that, for the first time, the entire class knew the answer. Ofsted was coming."

Adam Brazier, 31, teaches humanities and maths at East Brighton College of Media Arts - one of the most inspected schools in England.

"A FEW of us like to argue about who is the most inspected teacher.

I've only been here for seven years, but have seen 12 inspections, and had my lessons observed about 25 times. My first inspection was just four days after I started as a newly qualified teacher, back in 1996 when the school was Stanley Deason High.

"It was terrifying. I was worried how my students would act because I hadn't got to know them. I might as well have been a cover teacher.

"One of the pupils refused to do anything, but the inspector agreed afterwards there was nothing more I could have done.

"Since then the school's changed heads four times, been in and out of special measures twice. It was fresh-started in 1999 as East Brighton College of Media Arts.

"I think I've learned more from all the inspections than during teacher training. I was even looking forward to our latest Ofsted visit last year, because I knew it was going to be good and we would taken be out of special measures."

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