Did anything more exciting happen this week? Oh yes, OFSTED. You know I can’t tell you the result until it’s gone through their knitting. I can tell you about the effect on the good ship Tallis, though.
Ofsted has a communication methodology all of its own. We’ve been due an inspection since May last year so I don’t like any phone calls immediately after 1130 because that’s when they ring. It used to be at 12, but it’s crept forward. Perhaps by the time I retire it’ll be breakfast time, early enough to spoil the whole day. So, just as our Business Manager was starting to explain further catastrophic developments in local parking regulations, the phone rang and the dread word mouthed through the door at me. I may have cursed the blameless instrument.
Ofsted obviously employ people with calm and sepulchral voices to deliver clear but unwelcome news to scrambled Heads. They must be used to having to say everything seven times. I was so shocked I couldn’t remember how many children are currently on roll. The first phone call warns you you’ll get a second one from a Lead Inspector who’ll tell you what’s on the agenda. You sort out a base room and parking spaces and they turn up the next morning at 0800 and do their thing. I’ve called them the clipboard brigade, but actually they carry these large zippy-up A4 leatherette affairs. It’s all done on paper, which you may find mildly interesting.
Wandering about during our time of trial I was accosted by a youth. He and I have not always seen eye-to-eye on coat-wearing in the dining room, but he was onto the matter under advisement. ‘Miss, when does the thing come out?’ I requested further particulars.‘The thing, you know.’ We’d reached an impasse when, with a sudden rush of blood to the head he rephrased: ‘When is the inspection report published on the OFSTED website?’ ‘About three weeks’. I need to keep an eye on him: he may be a plant.
He was certainly more articulate than the girl exasperating the calmest Head of Year as I passed. Attempting to justify what sounded like pretty foolish actions, she turned to extra verbiage for cloud cover and had to be restrained. 'Don’t start every sentence with ‘basically’. I’ve got to go and teach in five minutes’. She had to strip her explanation down to the bare facts without added rhetoric. Ofsted’s bit like that too.
The long week is finally over and I gaze at the whiteboard in my office. The priorities are still the same no matter who’s visiting, but I sometimes add a line of verse to make me think. This week it was from a poem by David Harsent called Tinnitus. The first line, which I like, would have been best:
‘Now footsteps on shingle. Make of it what you will’
What I actually had written up, thinking about a likely visit, was the last line:
‘Now chains through gravel. Make of it what you will’.
but I rubbed it off when we got the call. It might have seemed rude. We’re all public servants.
In school you can always hear Ofsted either approaching or departing, but the day was sunny and everyone worked together beautifully. We had Danish visitors and lots of messages of support from our friends. Sorry this is rushed. You’ll be the first to know when we get the report.