Our house has been experiencing an unusually large number of visitors lately. Just last week, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid and Belle from Beauty and the Beast came for a tea party. For the past three nights our bedrooms have been filled to capacity as Peppa and George Pig, Ben and Holly and most of the cast of Disney's Frozen have insisted on coming for sleepovers. Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty are such regular dinner guests that I've started setting places for them at the table.
I don't want to sound antisocial but having so many people around can get a bit wearing. The morning nursery drop-off was a lot quicker when it didn't involve getting Snow White and all seven dwarfs in and out of the car (especially if we have to go back, in the rain, because Grumpy has dropped his bag).
But although they can be high maintenance, I can't pretend I'm not enjoying the frisson of danger that some of our new acquaintances bring with them. I was only too happy to accelerate down the motorway last weekend to shake off the tribe of bloodthirsty giants who were in hot pursuit of the BFG in our boot. My normally filthy car is looking cleaner than ever since we realised that both Gruffalos and hungry wolves could be defeated by the automatic car wash.
Sadly all these visitors come at the invitation of the younger members of the household - playmates of this ilk are just a distant memory for me. It's a shame because, like most teachers at the moment, I could use a good imaginary friend; preferably a fearless education leader. A cross between Mrs McClusky of Grange Hill and Judi Dench in the Bond films, she would rule with exceptional intelligence, gravitas and sensitivity. Under her leadership, the educational landscape would be drastically altered. There would be a complete ban on sudden and sweeping changes to the curriculum being made by politicians with no experience of schools apart from the fact that they once went to one.
Headteachers would receive specific instructions that, unless something was obviously going wrong, teachers were to be trusted to make decisions and get on with the job. Ofsted would be abolished with immediate effect - the chief inspector would deliver no-notice inspections on all inspectors and anyone found to be less than good would be redeployed far away from education. All the others would go to work as local authority advisers. Teachers would gather regularly to talk about teaching. They would share stories of success and failure, supported by scientifically proven research and ample supplies of good wine (funded by the now-redundant Ofsted inspectors' expense accounts). The culture of blame would be phased out and supplies of praise would be increased to meet demand.
Although this vision may be some way off becoming reality, I'm not giving up on it. I think it could happen. Snow White agrees with me.
Jo Brighouse is a primary school teacher in the Midlands