Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Canadians in 1942 … and pre-Ofsted ‘readiness’

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Pourville-sur-Mer, which is situated just outside Dieppe. This is the (in)famous ‘Green Beach’ where the Canadians – the South Saskatchewans and the Cameron Highlanders of Canada – landed during the ill-fated Dieppe Operation (Operation Rutter/Operation Jubilee).

The bay at Pourville-sur-Mer in 1946. This was 'Green Beach' during the Dieppe 'raid'. This photograph was taken near to the location of the German Radar Station that was one of raid's the objectives. The block that housed the actual radar station has since fallen onto the beach below as a result of cliff erosion.
A modern view of Pourville-sur-Mer.
Having walked the battlefield, it was not difficult to understand why the Canadians had such a hard time trying to achieve their objectives. The beach is shingle and very difficult to walk on, let along run up with a full pack and rifle. It is also divided in two by the River Scie, which is ‘canalized’ before it enters the sea. The resultant cutting is deep, with steep, vertical concrete sides, and can only be crossed via a narrow road bridge. During the Dieppe ‘raid’, trying to cross this bridge under fire proved impossible, and this was a contributing factor to the failure of the whole operation.

So what has this to do with Ofsted?

Well one of the reasons given for using the Canadians as the main part of the raiding force was the fact that they had been sitting in England training since they had arrived in late 1940. By the end of 1941 there were fears that, if the Canadians did not get some action soon, they would go ‘stale’ and lose their ‘edge’ … and that is just how it feels at work at present.

We have been preparing for our forthcoming Ofsted inspection for months. We have had training, more training, and even more training. We have had mock mini-inspections, classroom observations, and educational ‘walks’ (these are short visits to each classroom by a small team of senior managers to ‘check’ that things are being done properly). We were more than ready for the ‘off’ before Christmas … and Ofsted did not come. Now we are getting ‘stale’ and losing our ‘edge’.

It has been very noticeable over the past few days how much morale seems to have dropped. The pressure of being ‘Ofsted ready’ all the time is now becoming counter-productive … and I fear that like the Canadians in 1942, we will fail to reach our objective. In other words, the longer we are ‘ready’, the more likely we are to fail the inspection.


  1. Maybe the same applies to the 'elite' OFSTED Hit Team? One can only hope that the casualty rate will be lower then at Dieppe.

  2. The things wargaming teaches you about everyday life, eh?

  3. Tim Gow,

    I suspect that in some ways the 'body count' will probably be comparable. We already have had several good teachers leave, and quite a few more are looking to move elsewhere. By the end of the process there will fewer experienced staff in post ... and a lot of inexperienced (but very keen and maleable) young staff in their place.

    I am sure that this is the best way to improve education ... NOT!

    All the best,