You can always recognize a failing school. The mini-class of naughty pupils doing their work in the headteacher’s study. The coats all over the fl oor. The bored faces of the children sitting at their desks with the sun outside. I went into one primary school recently where the headteacher said: ‘You feel like weeping at the end of the day.’ If ever there was a sign of something not working, the abject misery of the person in charge is probably it. So when anyone can turn round a failing school, it has to be a clue about making other systems work too.