Thank you for letting us come to your school last week for your Ofsted inspection. (Well, if we're honest, it wasn't up to you, was it? We just rang Mrs Smith, your headteacher, and said we were coming, but saying "thank you" is what's called "professional etiquette". That's French for "good practice", a phrase we use a lot in education these days.) I expect you've been wondering why your teachers looked so grey during the inspection. Well, this is because none of them had slept since our phone call, and they'd been in school every night and all weekend making sure every second of every lesson we might be likely to see was accounted for.
The thing is, you see, if your teachers aren't up to the job we put the school in a thing called "special measures", and then we come and visit them over and over again until they're making a better job of things. Or until the headteacher pulls his own leg off and gets led away by some people in white coats. After all, you're the stakeholders and you have an entitlement, you see. We inspectors want you to have the very best education the Government can afford, with any money that's left over after it has paid us and lots of other important people called "consultants" and "advisers".
That's not to say we get everything right, of course. Miss Trembling shouldn't have been visited 28 times on the first day of the inspection, and she bore that with great fortitude. Unfortunately, because she was shaking like a wobbly jelly by the end of the afternoon, we could only give her a "moving towards satisfactory but unfortunately somewhat inadequate"
grading, even though Mrs Smith says she's normally a super teacher who works very hard and is loved by her children and their parents. Hopefully, we shouldn't have done her any lasting damage, and she'll soon come off the gin.
Some of you thought I yawned a lot during the lessons I saw. I assure you I wasn't bored. I have a medical affliction that causes me to take in occasional gulps of air. But I do apologise for one of my inspectors falling asleep and dropping his clipboard, because the hamster Janet had taken out of its cage was obviously very frightened and you got very grubby chasing him all over the floor on your hands and knees. That distracted you from your lesson, and we could only grade Mrs Gibbons as "mainly inadequate with the occasional satisfactory tendency towards average". I'm sure Mrs Smith will buy Janet a new hamster, and she'll stop crying soon.
We were very impressed with Mrs Burridge when smoke came out of the monitor in the ICT suite. ICT can be such a funny thing, can't it? We thought Mrs Burridge got you out of the room very quickly once she'd forced Tommy out of the big cardboard box. She wasn't able to complete her lesson, so we could only grade it as "bordering on the inadequate with an incomplete plenary", but we think Tommy was clever to find his own shelter. I'm sure he is gifted and talented.
Now, we were a little worried that many of you were unfamiliar with your personal targets. Indeed, some of the three-year-olds in the nursery didn't understand what they were. We've told your teachers to explain about targeting and tracking, and assessing for income and outcome with differentiation, which I know you'll find as interesting as we do. Please don't worry. Your teachers should soon lose that haunted look and stop walking into walls. We shan't be back for three years, because we've got lots of other headteachers to go and see. If we can find any.
Yours sincerely, Rosa Klebb
Mike Kent is head of Comber Grove primary, London borough of Southwark.