Thank God it's Friday

22nd November 2002 at 00:00
Monday They're here again, after a five-year break. Those wonderful people from Ofsted. The theme tune from Jaws pops into my mind as the registered inspector shakes my hand. We are looking forward to a more user-friendly inspection this time, one that will encourage teachers and keep them in the job. This is an area of staff shortage, so every teacher we can retain is a treasure.

Tuesday The technology inspector arrives. Nothing unusual in that, except she came three weeks ago by mistake. Knowing how good Ofsted is at making judgments from one piece of evidence, what should we conclude from the evidence of her early arrival? We do wonder, but it seems that she does know where her elbow is.

Wednesday Is there a plot among the students to sabotage the inspection? Bits of feedback from the teachers suggest that my pep talks in assemblies have not succeeded. Sydney thinks it's funny to shout out in geography that the lesson is not going well and that Sir should get the sack. He finds it a lot less funny when he gets the fixed-term sack and his mother collects him.

Thursday A fire alarm goes off as I'm settling down to hear the maths feedback. Shall I let it ring and watch the inspectors troop out and line-up on the all-weather pitch? It's a false alarm and I get everyone back in quickly. I return to find the head of maths charming the inspector. His report is good.

Friday No inspectors. The atmosphere is better, and we are all smiling. We've done well and the report will be good, but it has been draining. I can't help wondering why the experience has been so demotivating. This can't be the way to keep teachers in the profession. Can it?

Phil Bloomfield is head of Fitzharrys secondary school, Abingdon, Oxford

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