Sunday 31 January 2010

School inspectors

An e-mail arrived yesterday from the Headmistress. The independent school inspectors are descending in five days, and would we be kind enough to fill in their questionaire. There's one for the boy to do too. Of course, I did it straight away, and filled it with glowing comments about the school, the teachers and the community spirit there.

But having reflected a bit now, I may have been too quick off the mark, and perhaps I should have thought a little longer, rather than giving my unquestioned support.

Last term was a rough one for the boy. Not disastrous, and in fact his school report was excellent. But there was enough happening to demoralise someone who is described by the Headmistress as 'one of my stars'. She should be in PR.

The boy has three loves at school. Four, if you count his girlfriend. He loves being on the stage, and was angered that the play he was in for the House competition was disqualified by one of the teachers because it took the odd pot-shot at some of the staff. All in the best possible taste, and nothing that hasn't been done in a far more cruel way in the past (according to my old English teacher. But I still feel the indignation of a hard done-by 14 year old.

He loves the Army Cadets...his love of which may finally break my heart if he does what he says he will and joins the armed forces. I've told him I'm busy on the day of his funeral. There was an 'incident' (bears in the woods) at Camp, and the subsequent investigation to find the culprits brought out the worst kind of bullying by one of the teachers. I had to step in, and my anger was apparent.

He loves his rugby, but was sent off for a punch to the opposition. Provocation is a hard thing. He was devastated, and served his three-match ban with stoicism. Helped no doubt by the kudos the crime had given him. But to add insult to injury, at the end of term, when awards (Colours) were given out, he was told he would have got them, but for the sending off. To me it was a double punishment, and he should never have been told that. Cue call to headmistress and all round agreement that it had been badly handled. But damage done.

This term has not got off to a good start. There is a performance he is involved in Taal (the school's celebration of Asian culture)). He has a leading part. He is still doing CCF - and getting high praise. And he has been selected for a lead role in the middle-school play. And therein lies the problem. The teacher running this (who, allegedly is the teacher that disqualiified the boy's House play) believes that the whole world should revolve the play, effectively banning all other activities. Supposedly he had discussed the matter with the CCF, and Cadets who are in the play will be excused parade on relevant days. Except the CCF didn't seem to know about this, and have tutted disapprovingly at the boy. It appears there is a game of territoriality going on amongst the teaching staff, with the pupils suffering unnecessary pressure and stress.

I may just be bleating...but may yet re-submit my comments


  1. Problem is whenever you give a school 'feedback' that may not be 100% glowing it tends to leave you with a feeling that you are 'bleating'. But feedback is a gift and if the school don't know it they can't act on it. You seem to have addressed each thing as they came up with the school directly. Do you think it will serve extra purpose to share it with the school inspectors? Personally I think the play and the rugby colours were handled just dreadfully. When I started to read the post I was thinking " don't forget the Rugby", and you hadn't. If you believe it will be useful for the school inspectors to have a more balanced view then I agree, re-submit.

  2. The school wouldn't have got 100% from me. I always answer questionnaires as accurately as I can.

    Like you, I would totally dread my son - or any of my daughters - joining the armed services. Yes, somebody has to do the job...but please, not my kids!

  3. I'd go for sending the comments back. It sounds like the teachers are fighting to up the numbers attached to their 'thing', thus leaving keen kids like your to work out where their 'loyalties' lie - rather than welcoming someone who is multi-talented. Hope it works out for him.

  4. teachers involving kids in territorial fighting and one up man ship is not acceptable at all. I do hope he manages to fit it all in without ending up making trouble for himself by being seeing to 'side' with one group or another. It makes me so mad to think they making kids do this.

  5. Did you hear Mark Thomas's new topical comedy on R4 last night?

    Where it was suggested that any war which lasted more than 5 years was declared a draw!

    Fingers crossed that the war is but a memory by the time young Notabene is of age anyway.


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