I am sure that you won’t be surprised to hear that the call from the Independent Schools Inspectorate on Tuesday put a different slant on the week than that anticipated before the call! Today, for example, I was meant to be chairing the termly meeting of South West Prep Heads and yesterday evening I was not able to attend an Education meeting at a school where I am a governor – an unavoidable function of a busy diary and the notice period for inspections.
There is no denying that when the call comes the initial feeling is one of apprehension but this quickly subsides as the call to action goes out to the excellent teams re-establishing that all is in order, and the desire is then to demonstrate this to the inspectors: it is quite an affirming experience.
This is a compliance inspection and there is no doubting its importance but, as such, it can be seen as rather dry. There has, though, been a good amount of interaction with children as well as both support and teaching staff during the last two days. The three Inspectors started by joining our Family Eucharist which was its usual uplifting occasion and then went on to check such matters as Safeguarding procedures, risk assessments, EYFS protocols, recruitment policies and H&S records; they have also visited the boarding house, observed lessons and met with various groups of staff and pupils. The inspectors have commented very favourably on the levels of openness and engagement with all they have met, making the process very smooth.
As you will likely know, there is verbal feedback before they depart which is provisional and cannot be shared in detail until the written report (which by its nature will be very short) is finalised but there was certainly assurance in their words.
So, we head into the weekend with a lovely sense of having something that has been pending (for a whole year now!) behind us and buoyed up by yet another encounter with the school, where the visitors leave with a strong sense of our communal warmth.
Can’t say the weather is particularly warm at the moment – what a change a few days make!