Richard Garner: The leading question for which there was no answer

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The school shall remain nameless (for the time being) – but I was chasing up a story about how it had failed its Ofsted report.

It would have been a good story had it been a school in the leafy suburbs which appeared to have fallen foul of chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw's war on "coasting" schools, ie those with perfectly satisfactory results which could do better.

All I knew was that the head teacher was appealing against being put in special measures – so I rang and asked to speak to him. I was assured he would get back to me, but he didn't. I tried again a couple of days later but to no avail – the next time I called I asked if there was anyone else I could speak to. The operator went away and came back moments later. "There's no leadership here," she said.

Which was, I think, the problem that Ofsted had identified in the first place.

PS: The report has not been published yet as the appeals procedure is still under way. Watch this space!

Some heartening news about A-level week from the Co-op – apparently sales of champagne went up by 55 per cent in the week before the results were published.

Good to see that parents are still in celebratory mood despite all the squeezes on their living standards – and good to see the faith they have in their offspring. The champagne was all purchased before the results came out. I wonder what happened in those households where the results weren't quite as good as expected.

Probably: "Oh, what the heck."

The pressures of exam time, meanwhile. A colleague of mine informs me of the day he received his results. He had got two As and a B grade – enough to propel him into a leading university.

Back came the response from a disgruntled pater: "A B grade?"

Me? I got two Bs and an E. The E was in combined politics and economics. I still remember the words of my teacher written on my end-of-term report. "Garner is brilliant at politics but hopeless at economics – would make a good Labour cabinet minister!"

They don't make them like that any more!

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