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Cait's Travel Tales

Decade party-times, amazing breakfasts & OFSTED!

UNITED KINGDOM | Friday, 20 March 2009 | Views [563] | Comments [1]

Decade Party-times, Amazing Breakfasts & OFSTED!

Just another update of the past two weeks or so! I actually wrote this about a week ago but having some internet troubles, so expect another installment after the weekend with details of my lovely birthday!!

I moved into my GORGEOUS house in Sedgwick St, Cambridge, last Friday night. Emily drove over to Dirk’s to come and collect me and my slowly accruing belongings! For the flight over I had managed to pack everything into my suitcase (including an empty backpack), a laptop bag and a handbag. To get to Cambridge, I had a full suitcase, half full backpack, laptop bag, handbag and several plastic bags packed full of things like new ugg boots, welli’s and peanut butter. Hehehe… I don’t have any idea how I will get my stuff home… Perhaps I can privately book a cruise ship & fill the whole damn thing!

Last Saturday was actually Evelyn’s birthday so we had a bit of a shindig with a bunch of friendly faces to celebrate. Ev decided on a ‘Decades’ theme, so we had lots of different costumes. I decided to don a pink bob wig and shift dress to be a 60’s gal, Ev was looking very glamourous as a 20’s lady, Aine made the 40’s look good and Emily was in her element with a big-haired 80’s look (hilarious photos to follow). We had several drinks (& even some shots) at our place, and then wandered into town for a bit of a dance at the local Carnegies-equivalent, Revolution.

Well, let’s be honest, I’d had several drinks by that stage and managed to be rushed out of the house with my wallet, phone AND camera, but forgetting my COAT!!!! So little old Caitlin’s hanging out in town, in the first week of Spring in Cambridge at night time, in nothing but a tiny little dress and boots, waiting in a long line to get into the club!!! Some creativity was clearly required...

I found a way to wander into the smoking section and begged a random to lick their stamp and then press it onto my wrist so that I’d be free to wander straight back inside. She couldn’t resist my charm and complied, so within about 3 minutes me and my accomplice, Brighid (lovely girl traveling around from America) were inside at the bar giggling about how clever we were… Definitely a trick to try again methinks!

I was introduced to the Sedgwick Street tradition of birthday breakfasts the next morning, with a feast of home-baked soda farls (Irish bread), bacon, eggs, sausage, champagne, OJ, freshly brewed coffee and an amazing fruit salad full of seasonal berries! Mmmmmmm… With the hangover gone and the sun shining, we decided a punt on the River Cam was in order… Unfortunately, by the time we’d all showered and dressed, the weather had turned back to England-appropriate weather with dark skies and bone-chilling winds, so that plan was traded for an afternoon on the couch. (Crash is a good film if anyone’s looking for something to watch on a winter’s arvo).

We were given notice on Friday that our school was going to be visited by OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education). It’s a B I G thing in England, where they give you 2 days notice and then come through and do an inspection on ANYTHING! They can observe lessons, students, teachers, have interviews with parents, teachers, students, senior leadership or pretty much do ANYTHING that they want to, in order to rate the school on criteria. The last time my school was visited they got a 4 for Student Behaviour (1 = Outstanding, 2 = Good, 3 = Satisfactory, 4 = Inadequate), so were given ‘notice to improve.’ This visit, the focus was on teaching and learning.

I was told by EVERYONE that there was no chance they would visit me, so headed in to school on Wednesday feeling fine. I had a free period first off so continued to chill. Within the first 5 minutes of my first lesson, in walks an Inspector and sits down with her clipboard and notepad and proceeds to observe/rate my teaching/lesson with a bunch of fairly challenging Yr 9’s, one of whom decided to climb onto a chair briefly and swing from the roof – HOORAY!

During a chat at lunchtime, we worked out that I was THE ONLY teacher from English/Drama/:Languages up to that point who had been observed. Everyone was quick to tell me that I could relax now because there was NO WAY that OFSTED would observe the same teacher twice, especially a teacher who had been in the school for 3.5 weeks! So off I toddle to my last class for the day (a fairly nice bunch of Year 8’s) and before I know it, in walks another OFSTED inspector, accompanied by our Deputy Principal!!! This lesson went MUCH more smoothly, and I had some very nice feedback about this one, but MAN was I stressed out by the end of the day! To top it off, we had a Community Arts Event at our school that evening, so I left for school at 6:55am that morning, and didn’t arrive home until 9:20pm!!! Ewwww… Thank goodness my gorgeous housemates had a delicious dinner and glass or two of wine waiting for me upon my arrival home!

Thursday was much of the same and teachers running around in terror! There were stories of some terrible things, like Yr 11 students miming sexual acts with a skeleton, during an observed lesson, and a bunch of students deciding to be ‘Rolf Harris’ and use their whiteboards like wobble boards… Ah bless… The findings aren’t good news. SOMEHOW (I am peeved about this!) the students behaviour was scored as a 2 (good), and the teacher’s were rated as a 4 (inadequate), and as a result, my school has gone into ‘special measures.’ In essence, what this means is that we are no longer a Specialist Drama school (any school in Special Measures loses any specialist status that they had previously), and that we will continue to have incredibly bad staffing problems as people jump ship. There is a good chance that we will be required to do vast amounts of planning and prep, which will need to be approved by our faculty leaders before we can teach any lessons and continual OFSTED observations, every three months or so, until we improve.

As Emily put it, this school will be an amazing thing to have on my resume!!! It will be very interesting to see what happens from here…

Tags: birthday breakfast, cambridge, getting into pubs cheekily



Man Caitlino when you get home from this wacky adventure you should print out all these blogs and make a book of hilarious short stories out of them! Glad to hear you have fallen on your feet with such fun and lovely housemates x cant wait to read the next installement (its almost like passions!) it makes a good break from studying!
miss you xx

  Rhon Mar 30, 2009 6:41 PM

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