Thursday, October 04, 2007

Training at Pet Primary

I wasn’t in the best of moods, the start of a stinking cold, a day with Year 6 (afternoons the collective concentration span of a gnat) and a training session (in lieu of a staff meeting) at the local authority’s pet primary – 3% Free School Meals and excellent SATs results.

Let’s just say that Pet Primary isn’t universally popular with other teachers. Those in ‘intensive support’ schools are routinely sent there for ‘re-training’. You’re guaranteed to get that supercilious smile, ‘Welcome crap teachers from the slummy council estate school, we will show you how to teach’.

Needless to say they never take up that reciprocal invitation to come and teach some of those ‘challenging’ classes at Crap Primary.

Pet Primary has a Media Room, Parents’ Room and myriad other facilities. When we’d fought off the council’s closure plan, despite not having a library, or parents’ room, or any storage space, they insisted that we give up two spare classrooms.

Pet Primary seems to have plenty of smiley teachers who could audition for the ‘Stepford Wives’. But away from the manufactured utopia of Pet Primary the reality is that there is a high turnover of teachers who really don’t want to work 14 hours a day and triple back every display. The school constantly recruit NQTs who move on once they discover there is more to life than wall to wall planning and laminated resource sheets.

Normally I hate graffiti, it really looks ugly and disfigures buildings. However, I’d have to make an exception of ‘Adbusters’ who make changes to advertising hoardings. On this occasion I was really tempted to get out my indelible marker pen. All round Pet Primary were wooden plaques with ‘This school is a magical place to learn – Ofsted’.

According to research by the London School of Economics 90% of schools in special measures are in poor areas, schools in the leafy suburbs rarely, if ever, fail an inspection. What could failing schools put on their plaques?

‘An underachieving school that fails its pupils’

‘Children should be achieving more, the teaching is poor’

‘This school does not give value for money’

I know it is on a different historical scale but on the same theme, how about these plaques?

‘A lively church that serves the community well – The Inquisition’

‘A well-run concentration camp that gives value for money – the Waffen SS’

‘This court is a credit to the justice system – the Khmer Rouge’

Why give these monsters credibility?

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