I have a headache.

Yesterday I had an ofsted inspector come in to the class where I was teaching. I'm on a long-term supply post, mornings only, and yesterday was my second morning. He wasn't very nice to me and basically said I didn't know where the children were up to, that I had to aim my work at the right level better and that I had to, essentially, rush a bit more to get through more. This all based on a 25 minute watch of the input (carpet) section of a literacy lesson that I had to change because the bit they were supposed to do last week didn't get done by someone else and... blah, blah, blah. Basically, at the end I felt like crap. I'm sorry to use bad language but that's the right word. It was demoralising, humiliating and horrible. And I don't think it was justified. Yes, I don't know where the kids are up to ( in one case, I had a little boy yesterday whom I had never seen before!) but in 4 hours of contact time, I don't think I should have been able to tell him where they were up to and I wouldn't have wanted to be so arrogant as to make instant decisions anyway. Where is the time to get to know someone? Why am I made to feel bad because I need a week to sort out who is who and where they are in their development? And why, on my second morning, am I supposed to justify labelling someone without prior knowledge or a chance to observe and assess?
I think this whole issue (and how angry I feel about it) revolves around time. The time to get to know these children was denied me yesterday. The children are being denied time to absorb and understand things in the quest for achievement (whose? And at what price?) and because it's a Year 2 class and we (if I'm still around next term) will be doing ridiculous jumping through hoops to satisfy the Government's quest for league tables and tick charts we as a class will be denied the time to do silly things in the classroom like look at the flowers, play with bits of paper and find a distraction so enthralling that we can lose a few minutes in contemplation. I was with a sats class last year as a 'second' teacher, and they had done nothing except Literacy, numeracy and a fair bit of science since January (and before) There was no PE, no art,design or creativity of any sort, no dance, no time to take a book and read a story outside on a fine day. Indeed, the teacher admitted she couldn't remember the last time she had actually read a story for pure pleasure to the class, since all reading had to have a purpose in the quest for 'full literacy'. It astonished me. These were children in a run down part of town. For some of them their only experience of books came from school & it was only work, work, work. What a memory to have! In 20 years time will they look back and say, "Remember when I was 7 and we had that fantastic time with all those past papers?" or will they remember, like I do, the teachers and times when life & school stopped for something magical; the teacher who read aloud every day with voices and sound effects, the junior teacher who had 3 different sized recorders and was responsible for making me into a musician of any sort, the art teacher who let me stay in and paint and draw big pictures for the hall. I still have the flat felt cat I sewed with a Mummy, Daddy and full wardrobe of clothes when I was 10. My childhood? Idyllic, in retrospect, and full of teachers who were free to make learning enjoyable, paced to suit me & them and full of humour. I wish today's youngsters had the same chance. When the government has to publish papers entitled "Excellence and Enjoyment" as if learning should & could take place without these, then it's time to despair of a world where in a search for all the boxes ticked we've forgotten to look and see whether the boxes are round or square.
(The image comes from a history of Powys website for schools which can be found here.)


  1. Hi Jo,
    Thank you for popping over my blog. I was really happy to see a new comment. :)
    Glad that you liked my coushions. I'm making more covers for the ones in the sitting room and using the same stile. Soon I will post pics of them.
    I completely agree with you about the education system nowadays. Even when I was a kid in my country I would have some arts and other more active classes than the kids now. Really a shame to see that happening.
    Take care and I will come back to visit you again. x

  2. I am not a teacher but I couldn't agree more. For people like me who struggled academically I remember those moments of light relief when art, stories or something i could manage well happened.

  3. What is it with School???? I had a most great experience. I had some fab teachers and I remember making things (some of which I still have) and listening to stories and not wanting to go home because we wanted another chapter. It is sad that children are taught to pass tests rather than taught the value of school and learning and how fun it can be sometimes (no-one likes maths!!!!!!!!!!!)

    Ignore nasty OFSTED man, he probably had a nasty teacher.

    Now repeat after me... in with anger.... out with love....

    now find some gin and some cake and enjoy in front of desperate housewives !!!

  4. Both my children have had a wonderfl teacher that was a teacher when I was at school there. It astonishes me when she tells me how the day has changed since she taught me. No more learning to knit in the afternoons, taking our desks outside to do our work on a sunny day. No cooking real food, in fun cooking competitions with frying pans and portable cookers in the school. No sitting cross legged to listen too endless stories. However this particular teacher is wonderful. When my daughter took in a snakeskin last year, by then end of the day the techer had made a wall display about snakes with their arton the wall from the afternoon which she incorporated into a snake them, and the english section with them writing about snakes. What the inspectors would say about that though I dread to think !

  5. Thank you for visiting my blog this morning!

    My aunt was a schoolteacher for over 30 years, and she too had the joy of teaching wane as the years went on. Not because she didn't love teaching (she still adores it and is a tutor now), but because things have become so standardized, teachers are fast becoming more like pre-programmed robots (must to their discontent)!

  6. that's rough.
    i have a teaching cert - not that i've used it professionally - but i remember how nerve-wracking it was when i was doing student-teaching in college and my supervisor would come to observe. tough.

    schools these days - so not ideal in so many ways. (what you said about time).

  7. I'm very please to meet you too Jo and couldn't agree more with you about blogging. I love doing it but with real interest on making nice friends.
    I'm happy that you visited me again. :)

  8. I truely sympathise Jo.
    I was a school secretary before I went on long term sick (nearly a year ago now - I was diagnosed with MS and my treatment has lowered my platlets making me prone to infection so the doctors do not want me around lots of small children).
    I sometimes think these inspectors have not got a clue about what real teaching is about.
    Take care Jo.

  9. Hi there, just wanted to say thanks for visiting my blog after the spring tea party. Your blog is great and I love the Granny Along one too -love those granny squares! Visit me again sometime. Susan x

  10. I've just discovered your wonderful blog and shall enjoy reading through your posts.
    My Son has high-functioning autism and that highlights the shortcomings of current teaching practice. Everything is centred on literacy. Consequently I have an intelligent and able boy refusing to go to school at the age of 6. I remember primary school with great fondness. The best learning was done without even realising. You sound like a great teacher because you obviously care. Ignore them...


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