Royal Grammar School

Newcastle

An Inspector Calls

An Inspector Calls

Well, we received the phone call this week. Next week a team descends from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) to carry out a full inspection, almost bang on schedule in the six-year cycle (we were last inspected in January 2010). As we reach the weekend we’ve just about finished the administrative job of producing colossal amounts of paper for the team. In this digital age much of the information provided is generated and even sent electronically – but it’s surprising just how many hundredweights of paper nonetheless emerge from the process, all so that the inspectors are fully informed.

Naturally, in our tightly regulated and frankly anxious world, a significant amount of inspection focuses on compliance issues. But, once our boys and girls see inspectors in the school, that aspect will have been largely covered. Inspectors are coming in, as they always have in the independent schools scheme, to sample and feel the quality of school life, of the experience that students receive in this school from day to day. We might not have chosen week 12 of a busy autumn term for the inspection (!), but at least inspectors will see a great deal going on.

Still (as I say monotonously, sorry) huge amounts of work are being tackled in the classroom. Nonetheless, music and drama are also building up to performances over the next two weeks, so there are big almost-final rehearsals going on all week: sport also reaches a crescendo if not a climax, with the First XV playing St Peter’s, York, in the next round of the NatWest Cup; the Junior School hosting five other schools for a girls’ swimming gala, also on Wednesday; the annually amazing House Gymnastics Competitions, for Junior and Senior Schools, all day Friday; and all the other things that I haven’t space to include here. It will be quite a week in every sense.

Certainly we shall all feel more relaxed when we reach the end of next week. Inspection is a high-stakes business: a school that claims to be as good as the RGS needs to be able to demonstrate that fact to the team. We shall do that best by being ourselves, by being (as ever) the RGS that we love and are proud of and by doing next week what we do every day of every term.

We have every reason to be confident. Still, we are all human, and I for one will have my fingers crossed!

Bernard Trafford

Headmaster