The grass flattening takes my mind back nearly twenty years ago when I was on the Deputy head interview treadmill. At one gruelling interview process lasting three days (including an evening meeting the Governors, who appeared to be the Tory Party at play in deepest Surrey. The point of this bit seemed to be to see whether you could hold a plate of canapes, a glass of dry white wine and still engage in small talk about property prices and skiing holidays) I found myself in a group of five candidates sitting in a circle. There was an outer circle, accommodating members of the panel with clipboards, frantically scribbling notes as we all strutted our stuff. We were meant to be members of the Senior Leadership group and, at intervals, we were given a little slip of paper with a hot educational topic on it. Each candidate took it in turns to introduce and chair the discussion of the topic.
All was going well until a new topic was introduced. To combat vandalism and poor behaviour in the toilets, the school was going to introduce CCTV cameras inside the toilets and the cubicles. Three of the candidates fell over themselves in their eagerness to demonstrate their toughness. Nothing would stand in their way of stamping out bad behaviour. Their proposals got wilder and wilder as they tried to trump each other’s hardman credentials. I felt increasingly uncomfortable as this authoritarian auction proceeded, but shamefully, I kept my counsel. But then, the fifth candidate, a young woman who had been under the radar until this point, interjected and gently pointed out that perhaps the issue of privacy had not been given a proper airing. Silence filled the room and a look of horror spread across the faces as they all realised that they had just made themselves look rather foolish. It would be lovely to report that the young woman got the job, but I’m afraid this story does not have a fairytale ending, not even for me. One of the brutalist, authoritarian, sharp suited chaps got it, despite not having uttered a word of sense nor imagination throughout the three days. I’m pretty sure that he would have been first in the queue for grass flattening had it been around back in the day. He’s probably advising them on it now.