The OFSTED Christmas Message: more Fear than Cheer.

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In January 1996, at the age of 22 I landed my first proper teaching job in Smethwick, an economically deprived, multi-cultural area of the West Midlands. A lovely school with a tough catchment. Early on, I remember a particularly confident, and long-established, colleague whispering to nervous, newbie me, “if you can teach here, you can teach anywhere”; actually, she was wrong. There are far tougher kids, and far tougher schools, in far tougher areas: to that I can now testify.

However, the sentiments were accurate. What she was probably really saying was this: “if you can deal with the behaviour here, you can deal with the behaviour anywhere”. Indeed, an academic scientist who’d been teaching there for several years confided in me that his class were so badly behaved that most nights he went home, exhausted, ate a take-away and fell asleep in his clothes; only to get up again…

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