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27th January, 2013

I’m writing over the weekend of 25th-27th January, in the warm glow of a successful inspection, but don’t intend to publish yet. Just in case I tempt fate, and the inspectors suddenly remember they’ve forgotten to ask something and reappear without notice. Unlikely, but I’m not prepared to risk the jinx.

We’ve only been given the overall sense of their report – the majority has to stay confidential until publication – and it’s an opportunity for reflection.

Firstly, I’m physically and mentally exhausted. This week, the LRC has supported Social Subjects, Science and PSHE with rainforest research, Vikings research, evolution research and e-portfolios.  English classes were participating in the Reading Trail and coming up with names for the new Forth crossing. IDL groups got started on creating their historical, bilingual comics. At lunchtime we had the usual groups and clubs but since this was also designated Burns Week, we were also creating signs in Scots. A busy, but fairly normal week, although there was no press release for the obvious reason that everyone was otherwise occupied.

However, an inspection demands that you’re on high alert at all times, even if you’re just doing what you would normally do. You’re always ready for the door opening, and much as you dread it, it’s worse when it doesn’t. And of course you’ve been seeking out and organising evidence for the previous few weeks, and there are professional discussions and meetings to share said evidence with the inspection team. It’s basically an extended interview, but because you’re nervous, you’re very aware of what you’re saying, which almost demands that you say something unintentional. And that leads to the further seeking out of information and evidence to back up what you actually meant.

It was very useful for cutting through assumptions and asking obvious questions:

What are you trying to do?

Are you actually doing what you think you’re doing?

Why have you chosen to do it in this particular way?

Can you prove it’s accomplishing what you believe it’s accomplishing?

It was remarkably efficient at ensuring the completion of many, many little tasks: replacing lost signs; hanging pupil work; updating the school website.

The LRC is actually tidy for a change – sort of – mainly because one of those little tasks involved a mass clearout, and when I looked at what was stored in the office, I discovered much of it was now old enough even for me to feel happy about chucking it out 🙂 Of course, I then stored more in the office again …

And hearing that young people and staff  of the school have said that you’re helping them absolutely means the most.

Update: 15th March

The inspection was published a couple of days ago so I’ve made this post live – think it’s safe now. Now I have to admit that I’m a bit like Lisa Simpson, sometimes I just need a grade, so I was chuffed to get a mention saying that the LRC  “supports the pupils very effectively across departments to progress and reflect on their skills, particularly in literacy”.

That’ll do me nicely, thanks 🙂