The Autumn term is the longest and, teachers will say, the most tiring. A new cohort of students joins the school, teachers have new classes, departments have new teachers, school starts and finishes in the dark, students get more excitable as Christmas approaches, the weather …you know what I mean.
As Christmas looms, the inevitable hype begins. This year, Christmas will be the most festive ever, the most enjoyable, there will never have been a festive period like it, presents will be bigger and better, there will be more lights on Christmas trees, the radio stations will play much more ‘Christmassy’ music, Christmas jumpers will be jollier, turkeys will be bigger and tastier, Father Christmas more generous.
Teaching is just like Christmas.
This year’s progress will be better than last. The quality of teaching will rise. Marking will give more students more effective feedback. Teachers will up their game in supporting more students with mental ill-health. The gap between the most and the least able will close as never before. The school play will be more spectacular, with more students taking part – parents will say that they have never seen a performance like it. Behaviour will never have been so good. No matter how outstanding the school, it cannot afford to stand still. It must aim higher.
Just like Christmas, then, the school will be better than ever before.
But there are two important differences between a school and Christmas. This pressure to be better is all year round, not just one day in the year. And, whereas we know Christmas is on the way, we only find out when Ofsted are coming when they are just round the corner.
And Ofsted will visit us whether we believe in them or not.
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