Saturday, 16 February 2013

Some extracts from a Hogwarts Ofstead report.

It came to me, this afternoon, that - if you think about it - Hogwarts is a bit shite.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start criticising Harry Potter. Were I to attempt that, my 13 year old self would leap up my throat and strangle me with a rope woven from pure, fanatical bile. Rest assured, I like the scar headed wizard as much as the next cynical, over-reading, novel-obsessed bitch. But, speaking as a pedagoge, I do have cause for concern.

"Despite inspirational leadership," an Ofstead report for Leadership and Management might go, "senior management appear to struggle to create a cohesive learning environment, or even an atmosphere of basic safety."

Or perhaps, "A deep-seated division regarding best practice and learning strategy appears among both staff and students. Senior management appear to have made no serious attempt to address this issue, a concerning trend if one considers that it dates back almost to the school's foundation."

Or even, "While tradition is to be encouraged, especially in an institution as respected as Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, such tradition should not be maintained if it constitutes a significant threat to the health, safety and well-being of the school's pupils. Hogwarts castle itself is an example of this. A Grade I listed building, its architectural impressiveness and historical importance are beyond doubt; however, it cannot, in conscience, be considered 'fit for purpose' for the education and accomodation of several hundred young people, many of whom will be away from home for the first time in their lives."

How about: "Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry is also suffering from a staffing crises bought about by an appointments proceedure that can be characterised as, at best, erratic, if not down-right bloodyminded. Arbitrary decisions regarding a teacher's suitability and frequent interventions from the Board of Governers have done nothing to alleviate this situation. Furthermore, even when a role is proving impossible to fill, Senior Management have refused to appoint internally, even if an existing member of staff is fully qualified."

And: "Time-tabling, too, is a point of contention. At O.W.L level, it seems pupils appear to be given full choice as to the number and content of their options without the consideration of compatibility, despite the fact new subjects frequently clash with core options. Additionally, on-site inspectors feel they should make the recommendation that, while staff have access to devices which allow the progress of time to be reversed, this does not mean that use of such devices should be routine."

Or, you know, Health and Safety: "The record of pupil care presents an equally alarming picture. Injuries, both in curricular and extra curricular activities, are higher than one might expect, whilst risk assessments are non-existent. Although much is made of the stringency of the security arrangements, it should be noted that Senior Management appears unable to provide a closed campus, or even to protect students from its own security staff."

Oh, I've not finished yet. Here are some more.

From the Teaching section: 
"The quality of teaching at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry reflects the lack of unity within the staff, and the lack of reasonable direction from senior management. While in possession of impressive academic accolades, few of the teaching staff are able to supply any evidence of QTS, vocation, or even teaching experience. Many fail even the most routine of background checks. Particular attention must be drawn to one Severus Snape. While it is not in the inspector's role to question management appointment conditions of those with an established criminal record, it is important to note that extended membership of a covert, far-right organisation who have acknowledged links with many acts of assault, terrorism and several unexplained deaths, should be uncovered by even the most cursory CRB check. Furthermore, it is not unreasonable for parents to feel concerned if their children to be taught by an individual known to espouse views which promote violence against an ethnic group who comprise almost 50% of the school's intake. The appointment of such an individual suggest that the senior management have clearly, and alarming, failed in its duty to safeguarding legislation."

"While, as a selective and fee paying academy, Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizadry is not constrained by the National Curriculum, it is somewhat alarming that there is no compulsory aspect of numeracy or literacy continued after the age of eleven, especially as no cohesive alternative curriculum or set of learning goals has been forwarded. No pupil's academic journey appears to be logged, no attempt is made to engage with the material on a personal level and lesson planning is - with a few notable exceptions - entirely absent. Assessment appears as idiosyncratic as the teaching quality itself, with some subjects displaying an unreasonable bias towards either the practical or the theoretical.

Also, despite extensive grounds and resources, few pupils appear to have the opportunity to engage in any P.E. activities. One is forced to wonder, other than referee the occasional inter-house Quidditch match, quite what the dedicated teacher does to earn her pay-cheque."

Or, perhaps we should dwell on Behaviour:

"The way in which an well established House System can promote a sense of community within a boarding school is well recognised, and the adoption of such a system is, of itself, no cause for concern. At Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, however, the system appears only to exacerbate the division that exists within the school among both the staff and the student bodies. More worryingly, it appears to perpetuate the culture of bullying and intimidation which, in its worst cases, amounts to widespread racism against an ethnic group which, it has been mentioned before, make up almost 50% of the school's intake.

"Hogwarts also uses a qualitative (rather than an random and numerical) method of selection between houses, an approach which, whilst not without its advantages in terms of pupil wellbeing, presents a administrative nightmare in terms staff-pupil ratios, and embeds the divisions between the houses even further."

"Discipline at Hogwarts appears to suffer from the precise lack of leadership and guidance which make the curriculum and the staffing situation so precarious. Staff appear to be given a carte blanche as to the method and motivation in awarding and deducting house-points, as well as the use and content of detentions. It is, perhaps, admirable that those who transgress disciplinary bounds are expected to repay the school by a form of community service, but if the basic safety and wellbeing of pupils cannot be guaranteed, the senior management should perhaps rethink the degree of autonomy its staff are awarded. It should be noted that neither a sadistic variation on the writing of lines, or the use of pupils in slave labour in the service a member of staff's social activities, is not to be encouraged as an alternative.

"Despite this strict, and indeed, draconian, approach to discipline within lesson hours, the monitoring of pupil's behaviour outside these times is rather less considered. The majority of discipline is left in the hands of Argus Flich, an unqualified caretaker, whose role within the school is undefined, and whose continued employment is a testament to the devil-may-care attitude of senior management's appointment's procedure."

Ooooh, I could go on and on... (and feel free to do so in the comments) But as it is, let's just finish with a last snippit, "...and the less said about the attendant wildlife, the better."

Disclaimer: I am not now and have never been either a teacher or an Ofsted inspector, as you could probably guess from the above report.

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