Lesson 89 on Being proud of ourselves
At last it was the week of the Ofsted inspection at Owen’s school. In those days the schedule for the year’s visitations was published months ahead and a full team of inspectors stayed for four days.
On Monday morning at assembly the head was wearing her meeting visiting dignitaries suit and she was not carrying her usual mug of tea (health and safety). She spoke to the solemn children.
“Now you all know about the visitors who are with us this week to inspect our school. Well, I think our school looks lovely and you look lovely too.” (They did, washed and neat! Everybody at home had been busy too.) “I’m sure you are all going to mind your manners, and speak up clearly if one of our visitors talks to you. I’m not going to go on about it. Let’s just show how well we can work, because we want to make our Mams and Dads proud of us!”
That afternoon I was with my little group in the bottom juniors’ activity area. By this time I was working with Mr Deputy-head most afternoons. His class included a very disruptive gang of boys, who were almost impossible to occupy purposively after lunch. They were hyped up by sugary puddings and fighting on the field. Their leader was Damon.
Damon’s gang specialised in ignoring my carefully planned follow-up activities to Mr Deputy-head’s lesson. My usefulness was chiefly in allowing the rest of the class to make progress while Damon and Co. were busy messing me around.
Of course the inspectors chose this lesson to observe. A tall suited gentleman was in with Mr Deputy, while Damon’s gang, with me in the activity area, followed their usual pattern of chatting, joking and refusing to write in their work books. All of a sudden I saw Damon’s face change.
“That man’s coming!” he whispered to his gang, silencing them with a glance, and picking up his pencil. They all copied his lead. By the time Mr Inspector sat down, they were writing the heading in their books!
“And are you interested in Science?” Mr Inspector smiled at demon Damon.
“Oh yes, Sir,” (Sir!!!!) Damon replied respectfully. “It’s my favourite subject!”
I was struck dumb. Around me the gang bent over their books writing things then rubbing them out in a show of studied concentration. They were acting being good!
“Do you like reading too?” Damon nodded brightly and Mr Inspector turned to one of the others. “And how about you, young man? What sort of books do you enjoy?” Damon’s second-in-command looked perplexed. He’d never opened a book willingly.
“We all like adventure stories, don’t we?” Damon prompted his followers, who nodded energetically on cue.
I could have cried.
Hardened little gang members they might be, but they still wanted their Mams and Dads to be proud of them.