Monday, January 21, 2008

An Inspector Calls and Updates

Today is Monday. That should be enough on its own, but no: we have, in the North of England, severe weather warnings and the worst weather on record since last time - November. I drove to the Knowledge College in the dark through the driving rain and could not park closer than Central Bradford because the car parks were full of cars belonging to staff usually still in bed at this point.

Today is the first day of our OFSTED Inspection (the Office for Standards in Education). We get two days notice of an inspection. I was so burdened by the stuff I was carrying I actually walked across the car park in italics. As my resources box broke and scattered a set of Yr 10 exercise books around the car park to soak up water like blotting paper, I cursed those who are so stressed and panicked by the process that they were here at the crack of dawn and possibly over the weekend. What can you possibly achieve at this stage? If you haven't got it right by now, there is no hope for you.

The management team are in a panic: "Do you have any free periods today? I need you." I don't think so. I have my normal set of Monday things to do. Half the staff have faces like slapped arses and the others are very loud and falsely blase. The usual suspect has rung in sick. The inspection team are all white, male and middle aged. As one of my colleagues commented: "They could at least have thrown in a lesbian."
My dear colleague, near to tears because she couldn't find a set of exercise books:
"What will I do if they come in?"
"Er...use A4 file paper."
"But what will they think of me?"
"You are four years away from retirement. Really, why should you care?"
My first lesson of the day: 26 pupils almost all with statements of special educational needs (largely for behaviour), 1 Autistic, 1 Elective Mute, 1 Dyslexic and 1 Deaf. We are looking at Christian and Buddhist attitudes to suffering. I am explaining to them that the very fact that I have them on my timetable at all illustrates the Buddhist principle of Karma. They don't get it.
Guess who came calling?
Can I take that retirement now please?
I got my feedback: I maintain a safe and friendly classroom environment where the children make progress and remain on task. I immediately confront any low-level disruption and keep the pupils focused. Pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil relationships are good and there is a nice and purposeful atmosphere. I stretch the pupils with sophisticated questioning skills. I make effoerts to address their special needs.
I wonder where he left his guide dog.
A former colleague wonders whether the school is going for a new category of inspection judgement: Shite with some mediocre features.
Sour Grapes.