Wednesday, November 24, 2010


So, allegedly we are due an OFSTED inspection in the near future. You can tell by the clues: Senior Managers suddenly demanding the update of policies; panicky requests that you update your departmental profile on the website. "Have you done your departmental marking audit yet?" and so on.

No I'm too busy actually teaching.

And now we have Pupil Voice. There's a strong chance I may not be on message here.

I have been given a folder to keep documentation in. OFSTED can tell a good school by how well its folders are kept I understand. In my folder is a questionnaire which asks pupils about their lessons in my subject. There are a number of words pupils are to circle to best reflect their sense of how they experience their learning. "Boring" is one of them. So with a certain degree of cynicism I trial this with one of my classes. They pretty largely respond that they like my lessons but almost all also select "boring" as one of their key words without, it seems, recognising the innate contradiction inherent in that juxtaposition.

I take the questionnaire and have it retyped, substituting the word "enjoying" for "boring". I trial it with a second class of similar ability and disposition. Almost every child circles "enjoying". They are, it seems, only bored when they see that option written down.

"I am a teenager. School is boring. Ergo I am bored. Simple as. If I am not given the option of being bored I have to confess that I am enjoying my learning"

Ah, the complexity of the teenage mind.

They are also asked to suggest something the teacher could do more of. Apparently they'd like me to play more games.

Then they are asked to suggest something I should do less of. Apparently I make them write. They don't like writing. (In a lesson last week Georgina (AKA Vicky Pollard) was incensed because I had the temerity to expect her to do some reading and some writing). No they don't like writing.

"All we ever do is write."

Well apart from the DVD watching  ...

"But all we ever do is write."

... and the discussion work.....

"Yeah, but all we ever do is write" (Or occasionally wright).

... and the PowerPoint presentations ...

"It's all writing."

... and the computer work ...

"Writing, writing, writing. It's not fair."

... and the role play. But apart from that all we ever do is write.

"My hand hurts."

Look guys. Newsflash - writing is one of the things we do in school. If I could guarantee that you could leave this room every lesson having absorbed everything we have discussed for all time, we wouldn't need to write. But guess what? You can't remember what we did yesterday and you wrote that down. Well not you Georgina, obviously.

Exam results Headteacher? I'm sorry. We were so busy having fun in the classroom and playing games, I never actually got around to teaching them anything. Still I ENGAGED them. And my folder is lovely.