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Assessment: Comprehension The Demon Headmaster


Dinah walked on round the playground, waiting for the bell to ring or the whistle to go.


But there was no bell. No whistle. Nothing. Instead, quite abruptly, all sounds in the playground stopped and the children turned round to stare at the school.


There on the steps stood a row of six children, three boys and three girls. They were all tall and heavily built and they were marked out from the others by a large white P sewn on to their blazer pockets. Without smiling, the tallest girl took a pace forwards.


‘Form – lines!’ she yelled into the silence. ‘Yes, Rose,’ all the children said, in perfect unison … Not quite sure what to do, Dinah stood by herself, a blotch of blue among the green.


The tallest boy on the steps walked forward. ‘Lead-in!’ he bellowed. ‘Yes, Jeff,’ chorused the children.


Still in total silence, they began to march forward, row by row, up the steps and through the door into the school, their eyes fixed straight ahead and their feet moving in step. There was no giggling or whispering or pushing …


Dinah continued to stand still, watching, until the playground was almost clear. As the last line marched off, she tacked herself on to the end of it and walked towards the school.


When she got to the top of the steps, Rose stuck out an arm, barring her way. ‘Name?’ she said briskly. ‘Dinah Glass,’ Dinah said. ‘I’m new, and-‘ ‘Just answer the questions,’ Jeff interrupted her. ‘What’s that you’re wearing?’ ‘It’s my old school uniform. I-’


‘Just answer the question,’ he said again. There was no friendliness in his voice and as he spoke he looked not at Dinah but over her shoulder. ‘It is not satisfactory. All pupils here shall wear correct green uniform. Kindly see to it.’ He looked so haughty and spoke so stiffly that Dinah was irritated.


‘I don’t know why you’re being so bossy,’ she said coldly. ‘Anyone’d think you were one of the teachers, instead of a measly kid like anyone else.’ ‘All pupils shall obey the prefects,’ chanted Rose, in the same stiff voice. ‘The prefects are the voice of the Headmaster.’


Dinah felt puzzled, but she was determined not to show it. She thrust her chin up and looked straight at them. ‘Well, I think you should take me to see the Headmaster. I’ve got a letter for him.’


(From ‘The Demon Headmaster’ by Gillian Cross) 106


Unit 18 | Revision and Assessment


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