Monday, November 29, 2021


 Continuing our series celebrating the work of HM Inspectors of Education and the joy their presence invariably brings to a school.

…and in my dream methinks I saw the world as it was firstly ordained.

 The inspectors lined up before the assembled teaching staff. Their leader, the Kommissar Kapitan of Education, spoke: We are going to show you how we’ve earned our stripes. Me and my officers are going to come into your classes at random and show yous how it’s done. People ask us on what authority do we swoop down on you like fiery archangels? Well, you see this (and he indicated a black cross hanging from a red silk ribbon around his throat), this tells you that I’ve earned the right to lead by example and am not afraid of non-compliant pupils, idiotic policies or box-ticking monkeys in management. Like yourselves, the pupils will understand that I am motivated by love of learning and informed by experience and common sense. 

 He continued: We’ll deliver to your classes pacey, engaging and light-hearted lessons, properly differentiated and with effective use of technology. You’ll see difficult pupils effectively managed and led to instruction by subtle psychology. You’ll see the pedagogic overload and clichés discarded and replaced with intuition and experience. The rubbish bin will be bursting with the once fashionable nonsense of learning intentions, growth mindset, success criteria, self-assessment, revisiting strategic goals, time to reflect on their target, the chaos of active learning, etcetera, etcetera, blah, blah, blah and blah! The children will start the lesson but lightly burdened, and end it just the same.

 All you need do is watch. Take notes as you wish. Be not afraid of our example, as we in turn are not afraid of your judgement.

I me thought, ‘Now wouldn’t that be something – an inspector that builds rather than destroys, has craft rather than guile, has integrity rather than a checksheet.’

And then a voice said: ‘I have sent this phantasie through airy realms to shew ye by means of ironic whimsy the nature and scale of your trial in inspection-land. And too, how great shall be thine reward for conquest over this enemy. 

‘But now, the dawn beckons, and, alas, reality.’

NOTE: It is my contention that HM Inspectors of Education, as state enforcers of political dogma, endless admin and learning cliché, contribute less than zero to the actual improvement of schools.

The possibility of a visit by them hangs like a contagion over a school – the staff driven to distraction, or worse! Deceit forever surrounds their presence. I have never heard, nor head of, an inspection report that said anything genuinely useful, far less displaying wisdom. It’s just another boondoggle at top dollar. Better alternatives to HM inspections readily suggest themselves, not least employing real leaders as headteachers. 

It would be wonderful if just some the many inspectors who read this blog would take some time off from counting down to their retirement date and deign to defend their profession against this attack on their relevance, competence and integrity. I am sure that the reader understands not to hold their breath while awaiting this courtesy.


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