Decamot inspired by the following items: Ian, Cup, Joshua Tree, Binoculars, Ecuador, Tailor, Valley Bottom, Rattle, Crude Oil, Campaigner
Ian Forster, Head of Equality and Inclusion, was on his hands and knees using the Head’s own personal manicure scissors to trim the edge of the lawn immediately outside the main entrance to Happy Valley Academy, an educational establishment at the wrong end of Hove in West Sussex.
Previously known as Kno Hope Comprehensive, it had been re-named when local businessman, Ho Ho Lee, became an academy sponsor. His parents had arrived from Hong Kong in 1997, preferring to open sixteen Chinese restaurants along the South Coast rather than remain in their homeland where Lee Snr had been a successful importer of crude oil but feared the effects of the takeover by the People’s Republic of China. His choice was to emigrate or become a tailor like his father before him.
Further along the drive leading to the Head’s designated parking place, Ian’s colleague, Tony Edge of the Cultural Sensitivity With Political Awareness Department, was applying a fresh coat of white paint to the kerbside. Edge was Head of CUSP, as his department was affectionately known, having been promoted from assistant grass roots involvement manager at the end of the summer term. It had been a career defining change of direction for him.
Both were being observed by the Head from her office using a pair of binoculars which she had obtained from a local Oxfam charity shop. In the bottom draw of her desk she kept a well lubricated football rattle, acquired from the same source, which she used exclusively for demonstrations against racism in Trafalgar Square. Her sister Leslie, a full time campaigner for transgender rights for hermaphrodites, often accompanied her. She was arguably her proudest supporter. Every morning since becoming Head, Clarissa Tree had felt it her moral duty to make a purchase from a worthy cause en route to her newly refurbished office. She saw it as a regular reminder of how fortunate she was to be part of the UK’s foremost educational establishment. She was determined to demonstrate her leadership skills by example.
A gleaming Duraglit-enhanced ‘Most Promising Head of the Year Cup’ awarded to her by the National Association Of Head Teachers in 2020 “for outstanding community engagement in a hostile class environment” was displayed on her brand-new desk to impress visitors. She was determined to justify the confidence her colleagues had shown in her by passing the imminent OFSTED inspection with flying colours. It was the first to take place since her appointment.
The very next morning, another career educationalist, one Karl Full-Marks, parked his OFSTED supplied company car in his allocated visitor’s spot, next to the Head’s brand new VW Golf SV Match. He got out, stood back and smiled to himself. He thought that it was no match for his own BMW I Series with extra spoilers. As an inspector with OFSTED, he knew he had to stay one step ahead.
He noted the neat well-ordered entrance area and was impressed with the prominent noticeboard drawing attention to important Health & Safety regulations printed in four different languages, including Mandarin. The canteen eating facilities were excellent with Shitake Fried Rice with Water Chestnuts a stand out item on the menu. Chop sticks were an optional alternative to traditional cutlery. He approved of what he saw and ate.
The Head’s offer to mediate in the event of him finding fault with any member of her staff was duly noted although strictly in line with NUT protocol which is predicated on the basis that teachers always know what is best for their pupil’s life enhancing skills. At 2.30 pm, Karl Full-Marks was shown into Room 101 for his last inspection duty of the day, satisfied that he had inspected a well-run establishment.
He was greeted by thirty pupils comprising Year 11 who would be sitting their GCSEs in six weeks’ time. They sat in neat well-ordered rows facing the front. Karl was introduced to the assembled embryonic intelligentsia by the Head of Social Perspectives, Gloria Garcia, who was on secondment from the Ecuador Department of International Affairs. It was all part of the Head’s personal initiative to broaden the outlook of her student flock beyond the narrow confines of the English South Downs.
“This is Mr Karl Full-Marks who is chief inspector of OFSTED, an important government department that makes sure Happy Valley Academy meets the demanding educational standards required by your parliament. He will ask one of you a question”
One or two pupils shuffled their backsides in their seats hoping not to be asked as Karl pointed to a curly haired boy sitting in the back row who Gloria Garcia immediately identified as Stuart Smart.
“Stuart” said Karl “Can you tell who knocked down the walls of Jericho?” There was a brief silence as Stuart mulled over the question before he announced
“I don’t know, Sir but it wasn’t me!”
There followed a stifled hush as Karl Full-Marks drew a deep breath and kept his contempt under control before turning to Ms Garcia and asked
“Did you hear what your star pupil said when I asked him a simple question. Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?”
“I did sir, your most excellently servile of OFSTED”
“So what have you got to say about his answer?” said Full-Marks barely concealing his irritation
There was another pregnant pause as Ms Garcia pondered her response.
“Well” she said, thoughtfully “I have known Stuart Smart for two terms now, and I have come to respect his academic ability as well as his integrity. If he said he didn’t do it then I would be inclined to believe him your lordship!”
HM OFSTED Inspector had had enough of this insolence. He ordered Gloria Garcia and Stuart Smart to follow him down to the Head’s study for immediate adjudication. Three minutes later, the three of them were standing in front the head’s desk with only the gleaming Cup between them and an anxious looking Clarissa Tree.
Karl Full-Marks put the prosecution’s case succinctly.
“I asked Stuart Smart a simple question – who knocked down the walls of Jericho? To which Smart’s reply was ….
A tearful Smart cut in immediately “I didn’t do it Miss Tree – honest I didn’t!” Emboldened by her pupil’s response, Gloria Garcia quickly added “I told his worshipful that I believed little Smarty. If he said he didn’t do it, then he should be believed, he didn’t do it!”
There was a long period of silence as the NAHT’s 2020 Head of the Year considered her response.
“Taking into account Stuart Smart’s youth and Gloria Garcia’s incomplete command of the English language, I find in favour of the pupil and his teacher on this occasion. If Stuart Smart says he didn’t do it then the culprit must be elsewhere. I will conduct a full and immediate enquiry. When the perpetrator of this heinous act of vandalism is uncovered, he or she will be punished accordingly!”
The official OFSTED assessment was ‘Requires Improvement’ despite the fact that a Joshua Bell was arrested one week later for smashing his violin over the head of his music teacher out of sheer frustration.