With both the Government and the Opposition pledged to come down on any teachers that don't make the grade, nearly every school in the country lives in fear of the Ofsted inspection. Every school except one. Wallington school in Kent is to be inspected this term, but, I suspect, it has no qualms at all about the inspectors liking what they see.
Among its old boys is Christopher Woodhead (below), no doubt once the terror of the lower fourth but now better known as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools. I have been sent a copy of the headmaster's report made at the school's awards ceremony at the end of last term, in which Wallington's head, Dr Martin Haworth, recalled that Chris Woodhead revisited his alma mater last year. Dr Haworth recalled that "carried away by the honours and achievements of pupils, or by the nostalgia of his first visit to the school since boyhood, or in a rare moment of lucidity from writing official reports, he declared that `Wallington is the best school in the country'."
The remark had been duly relayed to the local Ofsted inspector, Dr Haworth noted. In good headmasterly style, he added: "What is more important is the boy coming through and the man close behind." Absolutely. But when the chief inspector of schools says it is the best school in the country in advance of an official inspection, that's worth a few house points too.
`Pornographer' and the columnist's daughter
Michael Grade, chief executive of Channel 4, has been given a rough time in the columns of the Daily Mail in recent times. Labelled "Britain's pornographer- in-chief" repeatedly by the columnist Paul Johnson, purportedly for showing risque material on his channel, the label seems to have been taken up in the news columns of the paper and attached to Mr Grade whenever his name is mentioned. Mr Johnson's distaste for the alleged pornographer appears profound. So one can imagine Mr Grade's surprise when his executives told him that Paul Johnson had asked if Mr Grade would give his daughter some career advice as she wished to go into television.
Lineswoman gets the red card
Pity 34-year-old Nellie Viernot. A lineswoman at international level for the past year, she has been selected to be the first lineswoman to officiate in a French first division football match, later this week. Unfortunately, one of the two teams involved - the top-flight but currently beleaguered Paris Saint-Germain, who will be playing at their home ground, Parc des Princes - objects to her nomination. The match, they say, is a highly sensitive one; not a match, in other words, suitable for a woman to help officiate: if PSG lose, they will have lost the chance of the league championship; if their opponents, Martigues, lose, they risk relegation. The French football federation says it will stand by her. Paris St-Germain are incensed at this breach of male sporting bonding and is appealing to a higher authority - the French football league. My money is on someone somewhere banning her before kick-off.
Fashionable backing for the euro
The great European beauty contest is hotting up. In a bid for the Continent's hearts and minds, Chancellor Kohl has signed up the kind of cheekbones to win over even the hardiest Euro-sceptic. Step forward the latest spokesperson for the single European currency - the supermodel Claudia Schiffer (right).
She has been enlisted to promote a positive attitude to the euro among her country folk. And who better, after all, to educate the public on an issue of such grave importance?
Michael Portillo, presumably, will be gnashing his perfectly formed teeth at the prospect of such a glamorous opponent. Perhaps the anti-Euro camp should quit plotting in Parliament altogether, sign up Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, and leave them all to fight the matter out on the catwalks.
Warning: postal chess is a dangerous game
Here is another activity to add to the list of dangerous sports. Kenneth Harman, 49, of London, has been advised by his doctor to cut down on his strenuous pastime following a recent heart attack.
And what is this hazardous hobby? Mr Harman is one of Britain's leading players of postal chess, which can progress at the palpitating pace of a move every week.
Our sources close to the British Chess Magazine, where we read the story, tell us that it's waiting for the postman that causes the palpitations.
Fascist chic at the Waldorf
As Shakespeare so nearly said: "The party's the thing." I'm looking forward to the gala charity premiere of the new Richard III film on Tuesday. The film, starring Sir Ian McKellen and Kristin Scott Thomas, is set in the 1930s, with Sir Ian's excellent Richard a fascist-style ruler. After seeing the film, we will all retire to the Waldorf Hotel for a themed buffet supper and dance. The dress code is "Thirties glamour". For Richard III? Wouldn't the Tower of London in blood-red tunics be more appropriate? But never let the plot get in the way of a good party. Now is the winter of our discontent cha cha cha.Reuse content