Thank God It's Friday

22nd September 1995 at 01:00
Monday: Well, this is it. The OFSTED experience. We've known for at least eight months that it was going to happen, so we've read the book and seen the film. We've had all the in-service training to prepare us and heard all the horror stories from other schools.

On the surface, most people seem more worried about whether they'll find a parking space this morning, but we are all sure we are about to be swamped.

By the end of the day, only one inspector has visited my department, and that was a non-English specialist shadowing a student. No one comes to our departmental meeting after school and, later, there are no OFSTED reps at our post-16 evening. So far we're all feeling decidedly underwhelmed.

Tuesday: The head of art is wearing another one of his entertaining ties. Today's choice features four well-known members of a famous comedy film troupe. Someone observes that he is probably trying to get "full Marx" from his inspector. OFSTED may not be exerting an educational strain, but it's clearly affecting the quality of our jokes.

Wednesday: By now, my department is getting regular visits. My deputy reports that her GCSE language lesson on euphemisms and swearing went well: one of the students consulted the watching inspector as to whether he would allow "shit" and "bugger" as examples in an essay. I can't wait to hear how they cover this in the de-briefing.

Thursday: The craft design and technology department has been receiving so many visits that it is beginning to register overkill.

Some relief is forthcoming in the shape of an inspector who struggled to complete a jigsaw designed for five-year-olds. She managed the one intended for a three- year-old without too much trouble, but then found a puzzling two-piece jigsaw. "Who is this intended for?" she asked its creator. "Oh, that's for an unborn child," comes the illuminating reply.

Friday: A pretty fair week, all things considered, but five days on red alert does have a shattering effect. After the de-briefing it's back to the staffroom for refreshments and group therapy.

Back home, it's the first time all week I've managed to sit down with a newspaper. I am just getting settled when in comes my three-year-old daughter holding Teddy, who is dressed in a costume of her own making."Guess what this is, Daddy?" she demands, shaking the purple-hatted creature. "It's an Inspector!".

Well, Teddy has always been good at flying through the air and this time I proved my bowling arm is as good as ever.

Now Teddy's got a nice bandage on his head instead of the purple bobble hat and my daughter's given up playing inspectors and schools. We're back to the old favourite of doctors and nurses.

Colin Padgett is head of English at The Ramsey School, Halstead, Essex.

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