Tradesmen wouldn't trade with us
Coming back from holiday isn't something to look forward to (that soggy camping trip to North Wales in 1987 being the exception). This year, however, we are excited about returning to a shiny new bathroom. See how the sunlight, filtered through the venetian blinds, makes the chrome taps sparkle and the porcelain sing! See how it makes the tiles dance and the walk-in shower cubicle look too good to walk into!
"It's so beautiful I'm afraid to let you use it," sighs my wife. She suspects that it's never going to look this good again. Apparently I have a talent for encouraging entropy, the scientific phenomenon that causes everything in the fullness (or, where I'm involved, shortness) of time to fall to ruin.
But let's just bask in the moment awhile. For it is truly amazing how a combination of time, effort and craftsmanship can transform a bathroom from something dank and dreary - the haunt of numerous malevolent organisms ranging from the micro to the alarmingly macro - into something as hygienically opulent as this.
The creeping, detergent-resistant moulds are vanquished. The bacilli that laughed in the face of bleach are no more. The dust-eating silverfish have been starved out of existence. No dribble of toothpaste stains the sink; nothing sinister lurks beneath the rim of the wall-mounted, dual-flush toilet bowl.
And the best thing is that we didn't have to experience the process. We weren't here a week ago when all was chaos. When it was bare walls and naked floorboards; when bits of wire hung down and columns of plaster dust floated up. The only evidence of the storm preceding this calm is an eye-wateringly large bill.
But a new bathroom comes at a cost that would be entirely prohibitive if builders, like teachers, were required to provide extensive and detailed evidence of the impact of their every action during every aspect of the bathroom-fitting process.
Pete the plumber would have had to complete APP grids (Assessing Plumber's Performance) to demonstrate he had achieved age-related expectations in tap-connecting, shower-fitting and soil-pipe technology. Sparky the electrician would have had to traffic-light his efforts against the success criteria for wiring up an integrated lighting system, an underfloor heating system and an auto-response extractor fan. Jack (of all trades) would have had to make two positive comments about his workmanship before indicating targets for improvement in one or more areas.
All three would then have had to log their evidence on a database capable of tracking their group and individual performances over time.
This in turn would be used to alert the relevant authorities at Ofbath should progress towards arbitrarily determined annual targets for raising standards in bathroom-fitting appear in danger of being missed.
And finally, just to add a finishing touch, there would have been a requirement to produce a glossy portfolio detailing, through the use of written and photographic evidence, the Journey of our New Bathroom. Actually, it might have been nice if they had left the portfolio behind. It would be something to flick through while I'm waiting for nature to take its course.
Steve Eddison is a key stage 2 teacher in Sheffield. His report Evidence, Evidence, Evidence (volume 23, no. 2 of the NUT's Education Review) offers a detailed account of how continuous professional assessment can have a negative impact on a teacher's ability to have torrid sex. Mike Kent is on holiday.