09/05/2006

Head over Heels in the Dales

This is the third in Gervase Phinn's autobiographical account of life as a school inspector in the Yorkshire Dales. I wasn't all that impressed by the first in the series, surprised it would be compared with James Herriot's stories of life as a vet. But I enjoyed the second more, and having just finished the third one today, I think it's my favourite so far. The author has definitely got into a good style, telling a complete story rather than simply giving individual anecdotes.

There are the same interesting mixture of characters, presumably either real or very close to life, and a fascinating mixture of children. The portrayal of the wide variety of schools in his patch sounds very believable - from the hard-working, inspiring grammar school to the struggling comprehensive in an impoverished catchment area. Anyone wanting to know what typical British schools are like - albeit from the point of view of someone who believes absolutely in state education - would probably find these enlightening and interesting as well as very amusing in places.

Recommended.

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