Tricks of trade reflected by inspectors' mirror

18th July 1997 at 01:00
How refreshing to read the article about Southwark infants school (TES, July 4), which uses classroom assessment instead of key stage 1 national tests. There is a need to present alternatives to the "new orthodoxy".

When I learnt to drive, I had the benefit of a very experienced instructor. He knew the tricks of the trade. One was to adjust the rear-view mirror so that it could only be used by stretching your neck. He said that it must be apparent to the examiner that you were using the mirror. I passed first time and immediately re-adjusted the mirror to a more comfortable angle.

I found my mind drawn to this seeming irrelevance during an evaluation and planning meeting. I had already evaluated and was in the "reflective" stage and so not ready to plan. However, I did not mention this at the meeting, fearing that next week I would be summoned to a "reflection" meeting.

If I remember correctly, I used to "feel" how things had gone, I used to discuss with colleagues in the "spare time" we had between lessons and at the end of the day. I used to sit in my armchair on Sundays and think about what I wanted to get done in the week and how the previous week had gone. I used to change these plans if they were not going well or because I suddenly thought of a better way.

Most lessons went well, some didn't, and some were so successful that I can visualise them even now.

Today my colleagues smile but hurry off. Talk of "spare time" at the end of the day is greeted with hoots of derision. We have planning and evaluation meetings instead.

We have adjusted the mirror so the examiner will notice.

It's a pain in the neck.

BOB ADAMS 108 Brownlow Drive Nottingham

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