Lesson 93 Party! Party! Party!

Lesson 93 on The subtle art of point-scoring

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Ofsted inspections in the early days were such a major event in the life of the school that their successful conclusion had to be ritually marked by the post-Ofsted celebration.

There was a considerable amount of one-up-manship between schools as to what form this took.  Visiting heads who came to offer advice and support based on their own recent inspection always finished off their feedback with the same question.

” And where are you going for the party?”.

“Oh we’ve a few options in mind, but we’re not rushing into anything.  We’ll see how things go,” Mrs Head would reply airily.

“Oh, but you’ll need to get booked up!  All the best places are booked up months ahead.  We had ours booked before Christmas!” (This was a two fold barb, demonstrating just how certain they were of a good result and also the exclusiveness of their celebration venue.)

“We went to that new club on the Quayside. Its got a marvellous grill!  We couldn’t fault it, but of course it’s not cheap.” (Neatly insinuating that it would therefore be out of our league.)

So the post-Ofsted celebration had to meet two objectives. It had to be something that we could all enjoy and afford, but it also had to demonstrate to the other schools that we could be as classy as anybody else. The honour of the school demanded it. 

Every week news would come in of some other school.

“Braetop went to the VIP suite at the stadium.  They said the food was wonderful, but the service was a bit of a disappointment.”

“You’ll never believe where Rivermouth went! They had a weekend in Dublin!  Flew from Teeside on Friday night!”

The Golfside Country Club was favoured by at least two more.

Each new revelation was followed by analysis and discussion.  The stadium was too common, even the VIP suite. Dublin was over the top and ostentatious.  The Golfside Country Club was too snobby.

In the end there was consensus.  The Country Hotel and Spa hit just the right note. It wasn’t too far, it was expensive, but offered good discount weekend offers for groups. It allowed everyone to get dressed up, so we could all show off the photographs. 

Most important of all, it would put Mrs Visiting-Head’s nose well out of joint, because we’d be staying overnight in the Courtyard suites, which everyone knew beat minibuses home from the Quayside into a cocked hat!

Lesson 91. Let Joy be Unconfined

Lesson 91 on Sharing and caring

The inspectors were scheduled to leave on Thursday midday, but around 10 in the morning the head sent a runner round to say they planned to remain till afternoon.  There was still some paperwork they needed to complete.

By this stage the school was running on empty. Everybody, staff and pupils, had reached the end of their ability to be the perfectly compliant school. Owen’s Mam decided enough was enough, and carried him off at midday for a dentist’s appointment.  She wasn’t taking any chances. Three and a half days without a major incident was an all time record.

The staff were gasping for a cup of tea.  Carrying mugs outside the staffroom had been banned and, as everyone wanted to prepare in their classrooms, they went without.  The children were flagging for lack of biscuits. In the pre-reception group the youngest fell asleep on the carpet, exhausted by the sheer strain of smiling brightly and looking attentive.

Then, at half-past two, just before the afternoon break, the head appeared with a mug in her hand and a smile on her face. The suit jacket had been replaced by her comfy cardigan.  She brought the news everybody longed for.

“They’ve gone!”

Break-time was extended so that treats could be broken out of their concealment and distributed. Mugs were reinstated for those supervising in the playground.

The news was good. The relief was ecstatic. Everyone and everything had passed!  Not a single thing was unsatisfactory! Key aspects of the school’s work and ethos had been praised!

“Of course we can’t say anything official yet” said the head, just before she disappeared into her office to phone around and spread the news.

By home time every child in the school was glowing with pride and feeling personally responsible for the successful outcome.  Parents waiting to collect their offspring, came into the school to congratulate the head and the teachers. Everybody could share in the hard-won glory, because everybody, adult and child, had played their part.

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And now the after-Ofsted celebrations could begin!