The Office for Standards in Education has produced a short video to reassure schools due to be inspected. It is to be screened on Channel 4 at 4 am on December 6, and costs Pounds 30 from OFSTED, Room 113, Elizabeth House, York Road, London SEl 7PH." I know that life often imitates art, but I found this news item in The Times Educational Supplement barely credible. How can I be expected to produce a piece of fortnightly lunacy on the back page of The TES when OFSTED is capable of trumping every ace?
I wouldn't have dared write a Carry on OFSTED film script. It makes you wonder if the whole thing is a spoof. Have they really produced a video? Will it really be shown on Channel 4 at that peak hour of 4 am, when every teacher is glued to the television screen? Does it really cost Pounds 30? And is there such a room as 113?
It is all true. There is a video. It will indeed be transmitted to all six viewers who tune to Channel 4 at 4 am. Though you could rent much more interesting feature films, like The Three Stooges Inspect a School and Frankenstein becomes a Lay Inspector for a fraction of the cost, you can, if you so wish, squander 30 quid on the OFSTED masterpiece. Room 113 is real enough and can be found between rooms 112 and 114 Fortunately I have managed to obtain a copy of the Carry on OFSTED film script.
"Stand by everybody. Carry on OFSTED video. Take 1. Action!" (Chariots of Fire music. A squad of amateur inspectors is seen jogging along the beach. Two fall down, several run into the sea by mistake. Three lay inspectors in bath chairs are counting grains of sand. Only inspector to spot film crew comes over to speak to camera.) Inspector: "Hello. I'm your friendly OFSTED amateur inspector and I'm going to show you that there's nothing to be afraid of when we come to your school" (Cut to picture of fluffy kitten) "We just want to inspect what you're doing and there's no need to worry, because we're all highly trained".
(Cut to seaside hotel. Close-up of sign saying FAWTY TOWRES. Enter Kenneth Williams and Sid James).
Sid James: "If that berk mentions test scores one more time, I'll ram 'is league table right up 'is bleeding SAT Tracker".
Kenneth Williams: "Oooh, stop messing about Sid. 'E's only doing 'is job, though 'e's a bit below the national average if you ask me".
(Enter well-proportioned Pine-wood starlet).
Sid James: "Cor blimey. Look at the performance indicators on 'er. No wonder they call 'er a lay inspector. Geddit?".
(Camera returns to friendly amateur OFSTED inspector, who is unaware he is now on camera and is seen scratching his bum).
Amateur inspector: "Er. So you see, there is nothing to be afraid of. No need for any of this (close-up of Librium tablet), nor this (close-up of brandy bottle), nor this (shot of headteacher plummeting off roof of school). We're really your friends" (close-up of piranha fish).
(Cut to school scene. Close-up on door with "Headteacher" written on it. Hattie Jacques is seen at her desk with an embroidered motto saying "St Satan's - Semper toppus of leagus" on the wall behind her).
Hattie Jacques: "Ah, do come in gentlemen. Tea anybody?" Sid James (sipping and spitting out tea): "Cor blimey, what a load of wee wee. This horse should be shot. Definitely below the national average I shall 'ave to say in my report" (Enter one of Her Majesty's Inspectors, looking furtive, clutching briefcase marked"HMI") HMI: "It's terrible. (looks anxiously over his shoulder). You know, I'm one of the last real HMI left, the others have all gone now since inspection was privatised (bursts into tears). It never used to be like this, with this performance indicator rubbish and 'below the national average', 'above the national average' and all that meaningless garbage. But there are only a hundred and odd real HMI left now, and we've got to supervise all this amateurish tripe. I can't sleep at night. (Shouts of 'Get him off the set, quick!' and 'Who let him out?'). I can't even tell anybody how awful it is because I've signed the Official Secrets Act. And . . . aaaaaaargh!".
(A sack marked OFSTED is thrown over his head and he is dragged off the set struggling and kicking. Camera returns to out-of-focus shot of friendly amateur inspector's left ear).
Amateur inspector: "So you see, there's nothing to be afraid of. If you're a big school, just pay cash and we'll all be happy. (Close-up of piles of tenners being put into plain brown envelopes). And if you're a small school, you'll have no bother at all. There's no money in it, so we won't even put in a tender." (Shot of staff of small school gleefully spending inspection money in village pub).
CAST Pantomine horse.............John Batten (front), Kenneth Clarke (back) Inspector Ivor Briefcase....Kenneth Williams Inspector Randy Groper.... ..Sid James Miss Apprehension...........Hattie Jacques Lay Inspectors..............Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy Butcher.....................Kenneth Clarke Gaffer...................... John Major Best Boy....................Kenneth Clarke
Financed bt OFFRIP Costumes by OFFAL Produced by OFFTHEWALL 'Well Below the National Average' Productions Inc.