Thank God It's Friday

17th March 1995 at 00:00
Monday: And how was OFSTED for you? After two days respite, my wife, the head of a village primary school, is back to her bright and breezy self. I discover some brochures about health farms lying on her side of the bed. She must be feeling good - planning a romantic weekend a deux.

After supper, she asks my opinion about the costs of booking a coach. "But we don't need a whole coach to ourselves," I remark. "No stupid! It's for my staff - I'm taking them to Sunley Grange for a day on stress management. I can't have them dropping like flies - think of the cost of temporary cover."

Tuesday: Sue's late home. She's just had the worst evening of her life - a post-OFSTED staff meeting with the registered inspector to discuss the findings of the report. "How did it go?" I inquire innocently.

"No one understood it. They just sat there pole-axed, like in that Rubens painting of Belshazaar's Feast where the Babylonians see the writing on the wall."

"What did it say?"

"Oh, pretty much the same as the Hebrew - 'You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting'! What it actually said was nothing like that bad - more along the lines of 'performance against national norms and children outperforming their own abilities'. I wanted to declare a day of national rejoicing. But the staff thought they had been slated."


"Well they all thought they had been underperforming. In the end they all blamed the deputy."

"What on earth for?"

"They had to blame someone. How would you feel if on our honeymoon night you'd asked how it was for me and I'd said you had performed adequately against national norms?"

Wednesday: Reading the paper on the morning train my attention is grabbed by a headline: "School for Scandal - Council pulls plug on teachers' steamy bath frolics". They'd spent their INSET day relaxing in saunas and jacuzzis - is that the same as stress management?

Thursday: Sue seems as low as a mole's ankles today. The governors seem to want a sacrificial goat and their knives are out. Another head was found by her spouse slumped over the desk staring at a large bottle of aspirin. I tell Sue to tough it out.

She arrives home some time before midnight, haggard but triumphant.Apparently reinforcements from county hall turned up - an inspector who pitched it to them strong. Sue's school, he told them, got the best overall report in the district.

Friday: Will she last till Easter? I remind her she's still got Sunley Grange to look forward to.

"No I haven't," she says, "I cancelled it. I've told the staff they've got the morning off to lie in bed and breath deeply - reading the Dearing report, and I'm testing them on it on Monday!"

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