Will you marry me, Mr Ofsted?

30th January 2004 at 00:00
I'm teaching An Inspector Calls to a Year 11 class as part of my attachment during my postgraduate certificate and am lucky to have some unique props over the next five days. There are 16 of them and they're from the Office for Standards in Education.

Apparently they've got great costumes and we've been warned that although they may appear to be like us they in fact are masters of improvisation.

I hope they appreciate the efforts staff have put in this week (not that they teach, dress or prepare in a different way normally, of course). I was in at the weekend and the frenetic atmosphere reminded me of the day before my wedding. Displays were being put up, staffrooms were feng-shuied and for God's sake Trisha what have you done with the sodding seating plan?

I burst out laughing on Friday when I passed a team of painters scurrying around, brushes in hands.

The night before I'd been reading my daughter Alice in Wonderland and here were real-life knaves - the very ones who painted the white roses red before the royal party's arrival. If the head sits in a tree and doesn't stop smiling I'm going to get seriously worried.

A big difference between hosting an Ofsted visit and hosting a wedding seems to be numbers. This visit is going to take five days, not one, and there are 1,500 unruly guests, not 150.

I suppose there's also rather more at stake than a marquee and wilting antirrhinums. The school might not be Oliver Letwin's first choice but staff and pupils seem to think it's more than OK (and the results don't induce panic).

But you never know. Will all the speeches be delivered as rehearsed? Will the excluded remain excluded? Will the police make an appearance?

Trying to think positively, perhaps Ofsted will be in tune with our personality and aspirations and declare their commitment: "Do you - government servants having escaped from breakdown-inducing headships - take you - rural comprehensive with interesting catchment area - to have and to hold?" Maybe not.

As for me, I'm going to be running around with tissues and Evian bottles laced with vodka. This is an easy ride compared with another trainee on our course: he was observed by inspectors and then forcibly held at his school until he'd signed a job contract. I sound like a spurned lover at that wedding but I'm happy for him.

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