This year, Christmas is brought to you by Ofsted

9th December 2005 at 00:00
In the gospel according to St Tesco, Christmas starts towards the end of September and continues until December 25, or until such time as we all get fed up with it, whichever occurs first. As teachers, we know the invigorating effect that the new "lighter touch" Ofsted regime has had so, in the interests of progress, I propose that we should remove Christmas from the clutches of retailers and let Ofsted take charge.

The new arrangements would have an immediate advantage in that the festive season would begin with a telephone call anywhere between two and five days before the big day, thereby cutting out the boredom of three months' worth of retail opportunities. Writing a letter to Santa will no longer be necessary. Santa's little helpers will cease to be subordinate Clauses and become Christmas Improvement Partners, available to offer help and advice as we lead up to the big moment. They will also be able to tell you where you are going wrong with your preparations. This process will be called Elf-Evaluation.

As preparation time will be much shorter under the new arrangements, the practice of sending Christmas cards to family and friends beforehand will have to stop. In any case, their contents are far too subjective and cannot be quantified because of all the "I hope..." and "I wish..." nonsense. Under the new system, everyone will receive a Christmas Evaluation Form at the end of December, allowing us to calculate exactly what sort of time everyone had and review the sources of evidence quoted to back up the responses. Reports will then be sent out so that you can see the sort of Christmas you had. The report will cover the standards and quality of food, the management of presents, and the spiritual, moral and social content of the celebrations, as set out in the guidebook "Every Christmas Matters".

Carol singing will be allowed to continue, but only after a full risk assessment has been carried out. Any money collected for good causes will have to be fully accounted for, and the householder issued with a receipt.

If a picture is taken of money being handed over, then it can be used as evidence in your Christmas evaluation file; better still, if the subjects in your picture are smiling, this will prove that some form of enjoyment took place as a result of the activity.

The bit about having a "Happy new year" will be replaced by a new document, outlining your plans to improve yourself in the coming year. This may sound like asking what your new year's resolutions are, but will be a far more robust mechanism as it will have to contain details of your success criteria. Obviously, your development plan for the coming year will form the start of the evaluation process for the following year, which will mean those of you who start backsliding on January 3 will have nowhere to hide.

(The more astute among you will also note the significance of January 3 as being the official day Easter eggs go on sale.) Clearly, these proposals are still at an early stage. In the meantime, have a happy Christmas, and may all of your success criteria be met.

William Arkit-Wright teaches maths in North Yorkshire

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