The report is out. God rest you fair gentlemen

15th December 2000 at 00:00
Thursday, November 30 The HMI target of three to four weeks from consultation on Draft 3 to publication of our full and final school inspection report is well met. The director of education, school board chairman, chaplain and I all receive personal preview copies.

Monday, December 4 The box of bounty is collected from West Dunbartonshire Council's offices in Dumbarton and copies of the report are distributed to all staff in strict confidence, as the letter from the reporting officer stipulates.

Monday, December 11 At the weekly gathering of Primary 4-7, the pupils are congratulated on how hard they worked and how well they behaved during inspection week to make sure the HMIs found out how good was our school. They are reminded of our strengths and how, individually and collectively, we all could do better.

In fact, one of the HMIs seemed quite touched that one shilpit soul who answered questions confidently and eagerly, but totally inaccurately, may not have understood the concept of place value but he had no doubt about his place and value in the school. Which is the more im-portant lesson for life?

3pm All families in the Kilbowie community receive a copy of the report and an invitation to a meeting to celebrate the success of the school in partnership with the wider community. This will also be an opportunity for clarification and discussion of how we can work together on the five points for action, which include consideration of amendments to the building to improve the learning environment as well as continuing to raise attainment.

Tuesday, December 12 The director of education, one of his education managers and an education officer visit the school to launch the repot and to congratulate all the staff for their contribution and commitment to raising attainment, pupil support and child protecion. The local paper records the event.

But this is not the end. The HMI will return between June and December next year to look for evidence of how we have continued to raise attainment in English and mathematics, how we have met targets on attendance, and if we have maintained our high quality of pupil care.

Evidence suggests HMI inspections are generally fair, professionally conducted and effective in raising standards. HMIs observe such diverse practice that they are also in a position to give good advice. We should celebrate that the focus will now be on those aspects of the role of HMI. However, the shift from relatively private criticism on which staff could build, to very public comment on the school, including individual members of staff, may not be constructive.

Parents, like many colleagues, know the circumstances in which staff are trying to work to help children become literate and numerate as well as to acquire values and be an influence for good in the community. The inspection for them is in context.

How can those who read about our work on the Internet (www. know just how much our children achieve in school or how much value is added by dedicated staff who give so much more of themselves than could ever be written into any post-McCrone contract?

Is this the main contributory factor to our stress levels?

The staff are weary. It's been a long haul but a unifying and enlightening experience. Kilbowie's year shall go out with joy.

Sheila Campbell is head of Kilbowie Primary, West Dunbartonshire

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