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My Teacher Says You’re a Witch

Jane Schaffer

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Seven Arches Publishing

Published : 2007

Copyright : Jane Schaffer 2007

ISBN-10 : PB 0-9556169-0-5
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-9556169-0-7

Publisher's Write-Up

A project set up by Ofsted in 1996 trained many new recruits to be inspectors. It was at a time when Chris Woodhead had convinced the government and populace alike that teachers and schools needed to buck up their ideas. Now Ofsted could carry out its dreaded inspections across the length and breadth of the land, but Jane Schaffer’s book asks the question…

Did Ofsted Inspections make a difference?

For nine-year-old Steven, whose chaotic home life and severe dyslexia make home unpopular. With his teacher, it does. In the four days of the school’s inspection, Steven’s teacher picks up a handful of the much-feared unsatisfactory grades and so passes the point of professional acceptability. She leaves the school, and Steven and his classmates get a new teacher who is good at her job. Outcomes, however, are not always as happy. As you follow the complex and enthralling descriptions of each inspection, judge for yourself, do things improve after the inspector leaves?

About the Author:
Jane Schaffer was a Registered Ofsted primary school inspector for nine years; prior to that she worked for twenty years as a primary teacher, mainly in the Manchester area. She often worked with children whose difficult home life in the inner city streets meant that school was a refuge. She has a grown up family and four grandchildren.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (300614) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
This is the story of a deputy head teacher who thought that it would be interesting to be an Ofsted inspector. At the beginning we meet the group of trainee inspectors with a variety of temperaments and the different ideas that they bring to their work.

Through the book we see them from the start of their training through to the end of their first inspection as lead inspectors. I enjoyed the honesty of the author as she describes the stresses and strains of the work that they do. It cannot be easy communicating to teachers that some among the staff group are letting the school down, as well as being away from home for extended periods staying in hotels.

This book was written a little while ago, but I do not think that it has dated unless you work within the system. Much is true of other services such as the NHS, the idea that we have a responsibility to constantly evaluate our practice to make things incrementally better is prevalent in many institutional cultures.

The writer observes the interactions and describes the people that she meets with empathy as you would expect from someone more used to being on the other end of an inspection. I did like the personal stories that we saw develop through the eyes of the author. The relationships between the inspectors are sympathetically described and the observation of relationships between teachers being inspected was particularly interesting. I appreciate the difficulties of identifying strengths and weaknesses of the school and individual teachers. It must have been a very difficult to discount personal likes and dislikes and be objective, to work within the directive that it is all for the best of the children.

The trainee inspectors’ experience of their first inspection as the leader was engaging. Having been a team member for a number of inspections, to get the details of the school for which you will be lead would be a roller coaster of emotions, excitement and sheer terror. The possibility that you could get a school with issues, to have the commitment to follow the processes and have the courage of your convictions must have been quite nerve-wracking.

This is a nicely written book, with small moments of humour and a genuine warmth for the teachers and staff with whom she worked. Whilst I could not do her job, I did enjoy reading her experiences.
Chrissi (30th June 2014)

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