We have the pleasure of an ERO visit this week at school.
ERO stands for Education Review Office and if you're in the northern blogohemisphere think Ofsted.
I was reflecting today (as the ERO officer perambulated around my classroom and looked at my wall displays of The Beatles, Arsenal, Star Wars amid the work of students) how many inspections/reviews I'd been part of in my teaching career so far.
At New Plymouth Boys' High I was lucky enough to catch the death throes of the old Inspectorate system, before ERO was born in the late 1980s. These were scary things. The Inspectors came, watched in a humourless way and left. I never found out what they thought but I wasn't fired so that was good.
My first ERO visit was at MacLeans College. Ron Martin had been one of my lecturers at Teachers' College and was now working for ERO. He bounced into my class, watched for approximately 90 seconds and then asked if he could teach some stuff. Well Dah! I watched him for about 10 minutes and he bounced out. Great stuff!
The visit when I was a first time Head of English at Waimea College wasn't very memorable, nor my second time HoD English at Mt. Albert Grammar.
Then I went to Cambridge High School as Deputy Principal and had two wildly contrasting reviews within months of each other. The first one thought we were the best school on the planet, but political pressure (or something) lead to a second one which was utterly scathing. Yes the same school. Yes within months of each other!! Weird.
In England at The King John School I enjoyed the terror of the Ofsted inspectors. It felt something like the old coldly bureaucratic School Inspectors. The school was in a complete tizz for weeks before and during the visit. But the review was glowing!
Back in NZ and my first year of Principalship and - you guessed it - an ERO review. Also a very positive experience at Stratford High School I am happy to report. A lot of paper work but we got a very encouraging review.
In the Middle East I found myself acting as a defacto ERO reviewer of a school while being embedded in it. It was a great experience and the school made a lot of progress in terms of teaching and learning.
And so - to my...let's see...my ninth review in 31 years of teaching. This time as HoD English again.
I really hope she is a Beatles/ Arsenal/ Star Wars fan!