Undercover dreams

21st January 2000 at 00:00
I've worked as a supply teacher since 1991, and recently returned to an "improving" school to find that Ofsted had removed it from special measures.

All the staff had undeniably worked long and hard in very difficult conditions, but the school serves an area of such dire economic and social deprivation that even total commitment and dedication cannot halt pupil disaffection and apathy.

Thinking to myself that if this is an improving school, then I would hate to see a failing one, it came to me that to see another, more realistic view of an establishment, its staff and pupils, you need to trawl the bottom. So what better disguise than to be a supply teacher?

Ofsted could send its officers undercover. Not only could they cover a wide range o lessons, listen to staffroom gossip and inspect the toilets, but they could also listen to pupils baring their souls to "outsiders".

With the help of hidden cameras, this could also make good TV - another opportunity to boost school funds. At the end of the assigment, the supply teacher could reveal to the head, Jeremy Beadle-style, that he or she had been "Ofsteded" - and film the look on his or her face.

Suddenly supply teachers would be treated with reverence and deference. I can see it now: a free taxi to work, no more last-minute timetable changes, no more "sorry there's no work set, but I'm sure you've got something up your sleeve".

One can but dream.

The author, who wishes to remain anonymous, lives in the Midlands

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