Trapped in the DfES twilight zone

21st January 2005 at 00:00
Richard Greenfield, head of St Edmund's school in Enfield, London, lives in the Twilight Zone.

It all started about two years ago when his school was rejected for training school status by the Department for Education and Skills because it was in special measures. This was strange because, as far as Mr Greenfield knew, it never had been failed by Ofsted. "I phoned up the Department and the woman's response was that we were in special measures. I said we were not. She said we were. It just went on like that." St Edmund's never did get its training designation.

Better news came last year when Mr Greenfield got a call from the DfES last year congratulating him on having a staff member on the New Years honours list: "It was all very hush-hush. They said they were looking for information about a teaching assistant, Margaret Kerr, who was getting an MBE."

Suddenly, Mr Greenfield was back in the Twilight Zone: he had never heard of a Ms Kerr, let alone employed her.

"There was an embarrassed pause and then they started stressing how top secret it all was. There had been a mistake."

But several months later, on New Year's Eve, The Times reported that a "Margaret Kerr" from Mr Greenfield's school was getting an MBE after all. A gushing write-up followed in the local paper and letters of congratulation began descending on a bemused school from all quarters. Hurray! A bit of good coverage for a change!

But who was the mysterious Ms Kerr?

It seems a teaching assistant of that name does work at a St Edmund's school in Tower Hamlets, London which, by coincidence, has also spent time special measures. Sort it out, DfES!

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