A school in Middlesbrough that previously failed to attract average pupils has been deluged with applications for the 2012/13 school year. Joan Mydil, Head Teacher at Lusitania Comprehensive, says it is all down to an unexpected ‘satisfactory’ report following a recent visit by the schools inspectorate Ofsted.
‘I can’t take all the credit,’ said Mydil. ‘Top marks, or at least E grades, go to the staff and pupils, whose lack of wilful disruption on the day of the visit was worthy of praise, or at least absence of condemnation. The school has been firmly rooted in the bottom ‘inadequate’ band for years, but satisfactory puts us just outside the top 65 percent. The floor’s the limit.’
The report singled out ‘variable’ standards of teaching and ‘low-level’ task setting as worthy of comment, such an improvement on the previous ‘woeful’ and ‘non-existent’ that the school’s governors were moved to hang a banner from the school fence saying, ‘OFSTEAD SAY WERE SATISFACTORY’, bits of which were still there the next day. This was followed by an entirely uncritical piece in the influential local newspaper, the Middlesbrough Sun. Within days, applications from pushy, or at least not completely nihilistic, parents started to trickle in.
‘Some people say you should aim higher,’ said one mother, ‘but satisfactory’s good enough for me. If everything in my life were satisfactory I’d have no complaints.’ But not everyone is so enthusiastic. Another mum who noticed her kids developing airs and graces has threatened to withdraw them from the school. ‘Satisfactory gives kids unrealistic expectations and fails to prepare them for the realities of life. They were born inadequate and if their upbringing has anything to do with it they will die inadequate.’
Defending the school’s new motto, ‘Satisfaction guaranteed’, Mydil rejected accusations that satisfactory performance fell short of providing satisfaction. ‘When you listen to that seminal 1965 Stones hit, Mick Jagger clearly had no difficulty achieving a good outstanding; it was satisfaction he really craved…Or maybe it was ‘no satisfaction’ he was really after if you take it literally. Yes, I’m changing our motto to ‘No satisfaction guaranteed’. That should keep everyone happy, or at least not completely miserable.’