Spinning like a top

21st September 2001 at 01:00
A cautionary tale from the Borders (yes, another one) suggests that education authorities and school boards should not try to emulate HMI-speak.

A recent report on Balmoral primary in Galashiels found that eight of the quality indicators were good and 14 were fair; nothing was found to be very good and nothing was unsatisfactory.

This got a good spin from the authority. "Balmoral school receives praise from HMI for hard work and quality teaching," said the press release.

Among the fair aspects were communication and partnership with parents, the school's leadership and the quality of pupils' learning.

Mike Christie (no relation, we assume, to embattled director John), chairman of the school board, commented: "We look forward to supporting the school in its continuing development." (Translation please.) And Wilma Burns, the head, was said to be satisfied with the report, adding that the school would be "building on strengths and working on development areas". Quite.

Is this how the parents saw it? Er, no. Some dissenters went to their local newspaper to complain of low staff morale, poor communication with the head and parents who were voting with their feet.

Can this be the same school where HMI found parents to be "generally satisfied" and felt the school was "well led"? Perhaps we will be told - in plain English.

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