Thank God it's Friday;Diary;Features amp; Arts

19th November 1999 at 00:00
Monday This is pre-OFSTED week and, as far as I'm concerned (but then I'm just the husband), it's worse than OFSTED week itself.

For the past three weeks - and more - there have been early mornings and late nights. Add to this our move into a new house and life as we know it has come to a halt.

Today the builders doing our alterations drill through a bunch of cables and we have no electrics. "But I need to work on the computer on my policies. What am I going to do?" Tuesday She gives me a shopping list for things she needs for her reception classroom. It includes paper bags, a mop, plain biscuits and sandpaper. I do not question some of the odd objects - I only know they are for OFSTED.

The class has children who have barely been in school and know none of the routines. "Think of them as Pavlov's dogs," I say. "Just lob them a biscuit every now and then, if they sit still or tie a shoelace."

Wednesday She's late home. So what's new. "I would have stayed longer but the caretaker wanted to lock up. Why have we no water?" I explain that the builders are still down in the basement and that it's something to do with them. Obviously they don't know it's OFSTED next week.

Today there was a bit of a panic at school. The power pack and leads for the laptop (a vital part of a Year 6 lesson next week, so I understand) went walkabout.

Thursday I feel I should be more sympathetic as I just do supply work these days and can easily turn my back on OFSTED madness. But I feel guilty if I watch a football match on TV while she sits at the kitchen table drawing teddy bears.

Somewhere there's a middle ground between my wife's school which puts in hours of extra work, and the school where the head sent a firm memo to all staff saying she wanted nothing different being done during the inspection because she wanted OFSTED to see their weaknesses. (That must have gone down a treat.) Friday I ask her if they are fully trained yet when she comes home at dusk. Apparently not. Linford still won't sit on the mat facing the right way. Emily still tries to eat the custard at lunch with a fork. They all think the object of Velcro shoe fastenings is to make continual ripping noises with them. Jack still picks his nose.

"And OFSTED want me to provide lesson plans," she tells me. "I can't believe it." I snort with disgust as a show of support, and then suggest she tries chocolate biscuits for the training. "They'll work a treat."

David Thomas lives in Leeds. His wife is a reception class teacher

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