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What do they mean? School profile

This is a bright new idea from the Department for Education and Skills.

They aren't sure what it means yet because they're still consulting on it, but the general idea is that it will shed light on a school, showing what it does, how it does it , why it does it, who does it and who they do it to. This will not do.

If schools were meant to be transparent they would have glass walls.

Ideally, all our little darlings would come through the gates in the morning knowing nothing, and, by processes known only to us, emerge at the end knowing slightly more. (All the bruises happened in the playground.) Unfortunately, lots of irritating people like parents and ministers want to know what happens in between. Hence we have inspectors and open days, when we have to show them what they want to see. The rest of the year is our business.

The last thing we need is a profile (or a high one anyway). Luckily,we get a say in what might be in it, and indeed, what it might replace, so we should be able to turn this to our advantage.

It is vitally important to remember two things: first, that the DfES does not know what a profile is; second, that all actors do. As any dictionary will tell you, a profile is an outline, a partial view, and not the merciless expose of every grubby little corner that the DfES probably has in mind.

And as any actor will tell you, even the most unprepossessing features can be made glorious by good lighting and make-up (and only showing the best bits anyway).

The challenge before us is to show the world only what we want to be seen, while making people believe they are getting the whole bang-shoot.

As mankind has been doing this ever since the first lady chimp picked off all the fleas before swinging over to see her mate, this should not be too difficult.

So, let us aim the arc lights at our best features, lock the no-hopers in the basement, and, as the inspector floats face down in the school swimming pool below, we too will be able to say: "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr Clarke."

Tim Homfray

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