Sunday, March 21, 2004

Smoke and mirrors 

Jason brings to my attention the story of yet another school pulling stunts to please Ofsted. You have to ask 'why bother?' It must be years since anyone seriously thought that an Ofsted report would tell people anything about a school's real standard. The schools which do well are just those who have been pulling tricks longer.

My own experiences of school inspections only confirmed the low opinion I already had, both of Ofsted and of my school. In one class we were told that everyone should put up their hands for every question when the inspector came in; right hand if you actually knew the answer, left hand otherwise. In another the teacher told us to hitch up our skirts if the inspector was male. The fact that our school produced even a single feminist is a near miracle. Single sex education warps your mind.

During the inspections I was, as usual, close to expulsion, so had to keep my mouth shut. Other dissidents were threatened with similar, and we all looked enviously on at the one model Catholic pupil whose fierce anti-authority mother shouted at the headmistress in the way the rest of us could only dream of. But it was only one voice among many and as a result the final report was of course excellent... What a farce.

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