The Inspectors Call

Peter Campling

Trimaran Productions

Spotlites

From 14 August 2016 to 28 August 2016

Rating: ****

Review by Robin Strapp

Education in our schools has radically changed over the years and the pressures on head teachers and teachers to meet targets and raise standards with endless concentration on data and results with league table is overbearing.

Trimran’s Productions’ The Inspectors Call is an insightful look at the stresses that the struggling and challenging urban Ardley Green School are put under with the pending visit of the Ofsted Inspectors.

The clever, sharp-witted script is written and skilfully directed by Peter Campling who was once a headteacher in London and his observations over the years are passionately presented.

George Smith has been head of this school for 12 years and has a mantra of “stay positive”. However the school is falling apart and the promised new one has not been realised.

There is much competition from the Academies Trust and the opening of a new free school effecting prospective numbers At Ardley.

There are up-to-date references to Harry Potter with “Dumbledore” Joe Cushley as the loveable head who wants to “prepare the kids for life”.

The acting throughout is superb and the cast double up roles to create believable characters. We meet the senior management team who are diametrically opposed in their ideas with one concentrating on statistics and targets and the other more concerned and caring about the pupils as individuals and wants to liven up the learning.

There is so much to like in this production as the various factions in the staffroom are revealed. The union dispute, the Teach First new teacher that George comments, “it’s like ordering through Amazon, the new teachers just turn up.”

We have the irate parent complaining about the cost of the new uniform, the upcoming production of Bugsy Malone and an illicit romance between staff members at the Christmas staff party, plus the school is in financial difficulties.

Then there is the problematic maths department that is the school’s Achilles heel and there is little support from the Local Authority which has a hidden agenda concerning the future of the school.

Then the dreaded call arrives and the day of judgement is soon to begin and their future will be sealed.

The deputy head explains that, “teaching is exhausting and emotional” and the disillusioned new teacher asks the audience, “what sane person would want to teach at all?”.

This snapshot of school life is an absolute delight and most certainly an A star.