Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

School Is a Drama - and the Show Must Go Onstage

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

School Is a Drama - and the Show Must Go Onstage

Article excerpt

Former head takes education's 'high and lows' to London theatre

"Welcome to Ardley Green Community School," the headteacher says. "We consider ourselves to be a good school. You'll be making your own minds up on that."

So begins The Inspectors Call, a new play being performed at a North London theatre in April and May. The play has been written by Peter Campling, a former drama teacher and, for seven years, head of a South London comprehensive.

"It isn't autobiographical in any sense," Mr Campling says. "Other than that I have experiences of the highs and lows of school leadership, as does the guy in the play."

The play follows the fortunes of headteacher George Smith and the Ardley Green staff, as they deal with falling results and the arrival of school inspectors.

It has a large cast for a small production, with characters including three deputy heads, several classroom teachers, a union rep, a director of children's services, an education journalist and a school-furniture saleswoman.

"They are absolutely not people I've worked with," Mr Campling says of these characters. "I've made a real effort not to base them on real people. It wouldn't be fair, obviously, but it would also be lazy.

"But, having said that, there are some scenes between the headteacher and a student, or between the headteacher and staff, that are situations every head has sat through, including myself." He pauses. "Yeah, there are situations that happened to me."

In addition, he says, the character of the wine-quaffing education journalist might be inspired by stories heard during the course of his real-life friendship with TES columnist Geoff Barton. "I'd better not go further than that," Mr Campling says. "The bottle of wine and, yeah - there's bits and pieces of truth in there."

Before training as a teacher, Mr Campling wrote a number of political plays. …

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