Big Eye, October 14, 2014

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Once again Norfolk’s schools are under the spotlight after the head of Ofsted gave the county’s headteachers a savaging in Norwich last week.

Sitting in a very uncomfortable silence, headteachers listened as Sir Michael Wilshaw coolly denounced their efforts to pull our county’s schools up by their boot straps and get Norfolk off the bottom rungs of the educational ladder.

It was an appalling

indictment of their profession and apart from a few gasps, his verdict was received in atmosphere of meek resignation.

He went on to lecture the hapless teachers about a cult of complacency and an acceptance of mediocrity and used the example of a head who, in an interview with the media, had described his school’s exam score as ‘excellent’ when in reality their results were recorded as declining.

References were made to the number of times and the number of years this lacklustre regime has persisted in allowing these situations to continue. It was only in 2013 that the head of Ofsted denounced our schools as ‘dire’.

His opprobrium wasn’t just confined to the ranks of headteachers looking for all the world like they were going for the record for the number of people to sit on the ‘naughty step’, his attack continued with some acid remarks for our county council who he said had been judged until recently as ineffective and continued to have a great deal of responsibility for the currently unacceptable situation.

He said there was a lot to do and declared that some of the unluckiest children live here in the East of England, especially those in primary education whom he described as “faring worse than almost every other region”.

“Normal for Norfolk” has long been a seriously insulting epithet slapped on us by the outside world ... I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t something in it!

Another Normal for Norfolk (or in this case Lincolnshire) event occurred last week with a military aircraft crashing, missing pylons, houses and a primary school near Weston Hills.

Witnesses described two war planes ‘jiggering around’ the sky for a long time over the village until one gave a bit of a lurch and pirouetted to earth in a ball of flames and smoke.

The aircraft’s wing fell within 400 yards of the primary school which was enveloped in smoke from the blazing jet.

The military’s dogged determination to persist in training over us seems to be unstoppable.

Earlier this year a helicopter crashed near Cley and I predicted more to come only this time the aircraft fell a little closer to schools and homes.

The TV interview with Lakenheath’s commander was appalling. He expressed no regret or word of apology, just a flat statement declaring his relief that his pilot was unhurt and the US had a great record when it came to crash investigations.

You call it what you like. I call it contempt!