Easily distracted

Being off sick last week for a few days I had a feel for what it might be like to work from home.

 And found out I’m easily distracted.

 Even sick as a dog I couldn’t help noticing that the house needed vacuuming and perhaps a bit of a dust wouldn’t go amiss. When I’m rushing off to work in the morning there isn’t time (or usually light) to notice.    

 Morning tv is still a novelty and before I know it I’ve vegged out in front of Homes under the Hammer, Jeremy Kyle and This Morning and half the day has gone.

 There’s a dog that barks constantly all day long. Apart from a couple of hours around lunchtime when it whines piteously. Apart from being really, really annoying the poor beast really shouldn’t be out all day. One for the RSPCA I think.

 The three boys who rent the house next door but one like listening to very loud Eastern European rap. With the windows wide open.

 So once I’ve done the housework and watched tv and settled to some work while struggling to zone out the dog/ rap combo it’ll probably be tea time.

 I’ve got three months to work on my focus so…ooh look is that Sixty Minute Makeover on telly? Time for a break methinks.


Hands off our assets!

Last week I was ill and had to take some time off work. I know, feckless public sector workers taking tax-payers’ money off in sick days instead of dragging their vomiting corpses into the office.

 I just about managed to stay upright enough to take part in the online Guardian redundancy clinic on Wednesday on the panel of experts, (Mum, I’m an expert!) which I really enjoyed. If you managed to drop by, thank you, it was appreciated.

 I staggered into work on Friday and caught up on what was going on in officeland. This is what’s new:

 As an office, we have apparently decided not to go the Christmas lunch in the canteen. This is because of past bad experiences. See ‘adventures in catering.’ If our memories start to fade and we begin to think it’s might not be such a bad idea, someone will pipe up with ‘vegetarian gravy’ and we remember. We may treat ourselves to the all you can eat salad bar in the local Harvester instead.

 And we’ve had our assets checked. I know this is fairly common and neccessary but it has never happened before and it’s a little suspicious that it’s happening just as most of us are being laid off, non? A chap came in with his special asset gun and recorded every item belonging to the council and then marked it with a bar-code sticker. Now if anything goes missing we’ll know who to blame. Apparently he had to be forcibly removed from an absent colleague’s pink laptop bag and wasn’t convinced with assurances that it wasn’t council property.

 So on Friday we played spot the sticker in the office. Computer, telephone, desk- check. Shelving units, dustbins, swivel chairs- check. Filing cabinets, trolley, scanner- check. And then I decided to check underneath the blinds for a laugh and sure enough, there was the sticker. Because we wouldn’t want anyone to nick the plain white, slightly dusty and sticky blinds would we?  

 From my desk I can see countless little white stickers from floor to ceiling. It certainly makes us feels cared for and trusted. Welcome back!

Strictly Come Coalition!

Brucie: Good evening and welcome to Strictly Come Coalition. It’s cuts for you, for you….

Plebs: Cuts!

Tess: And our first coopool onto the dance floor tonight is Michael Gove and his partner the state school system. Last week the joodges said that his University U turns were unbearable and his fees fleckles were flawed. Can he do any better tonight with his education white paper quickstep?

Brucie: Wonderful, wonderful stuff from thingy…er…Michael Gove but what did our judges think. Bruno let’s start with you.

Bruno: MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMichael!!!! That was as wet and drippy as a day old cornetto. It was all over the place. I didn’t-a like it. 4.

Alisha: What was you thinking Michael? I just don’t get it: graduates need a 2:2 or more to teach but soldiers don’t need no degree at all? Totally buttaz, blud. 4

Len: Well I don’t like all that fannyin’ arahnd with national curriculum and chewbaccalaurates or whateva they’re called. But I like the way yer brought out the discipline elements. Well done, mate. 6

Craig: O.M.G. Oh Michael Gove. What a disaaaahhhhster, darling. You haven’t listened to a word anyone has said to you, you’ve gone totally overboard on assessment and discipline. Testing at 6, an obsession with synthetic phonics and exclusions all ovvvvvaaaaaaa the place.  2.

Brucie: Don’t worry Michael. You’re my favourite.

Tess: Wow, harsh comments there from our joodges but what do you think at home? Well, it doesn’t really matter what you think because we’ve decided for you.

Brucie: And now for our next couple. It’s David Cameron and his partner Nick Clegg with the leadership waltz. Last week Len said that Nick was being dragged round the dance floor by David and was hanging on for dear life. Craig said he felt that Nick is being dominated by David. Bruno said, ‘it’s a –love!’ and Alisha said ‘wasteman, innit!’ Take it away, Dave and Nick…

Pause for thought

It’s only been just over two months since I started blogging but a lot has happened. Blogging has been great therapy and I’ve met some lovely, supportive cyber chums.

This blog has also been mentioned in The Guardian online a few times and tomorrow (Wednesday 24th November) I will be taking part in a Q&A session with some much better qualified people on ‘How to prepare for redundancy in local government.’

We’ll be live on air from noon to 3pm so do drop by and take part…and please don’t ask me anything too difficult!

All I need to do now is try and get rid of the nasty bug I’ve been failing to fight all day. Wish me luck!

Kiss my annual staff survey

Tick here. Or maybe not.

It’s time for the annual staff survey. This is undertaken by an external company (wonder how much that costs?) and is administered anonymously and electronically. 

I work in a satellite, which sadly doesn’t mean I’m orbiting the earth in a capsule. It just means some staff are stuffed in a crummy building far away from the directors’ shiny offices and our answers don’t count statistically because we are too few.

We will be sent a link to our very own personalised survey in which we are given boxes to tick like ‘strongly agree,’ ‘agree slightly,’ ‘couldn’t give a monkey’s,’ ‘what do you mean Ann Widdecombe’s still in?’ There is a distinct lack of free text boxes so we peasants can’t express ourselves fully.

Now if I wrote the survey it might have questions like this:

We’re making lots of people like you redundant because we need to maintain the pay increases to the senior executives. This is a Good Thing.

Strongly agree/ slightly agree/ slightly disagree/ put that stapler down before it ends in tears.

The office where I work is:

Plush and delightful with vases of fresh flowers, an ambient climate and a coffee-making machine/ ok I suppose / freezing cold with a leaking roof, crowded, messy, not been painted since the 70s, with a packet a Bombay mix abandoned on a table that no-one will lay claim to and is a place where senior executives never set foot for fear of contracting something nasty.

At the time of writing several colleagues have had their surveys sent to them but mine is conspicuous by its absence. Do you think they know something?

Public versus private

While we public sector workers have been wallowing in self-pity at our redundancies and bleak futures, private sector workers have been telling us to pull ourselves together and stop snivelling.

 Not for the private sector, they point out, the pension and redundancy pay off. After all, the public sector is not going out of business it’s just, ahem, slimming back a bit. Nobody has run off to the Cayman Islands with all our funds.

 The other point they make is the gap between being told you’re being laid off and actually going. Most people are given days or sometimes merely hours to clear off leave the building, the contents of their desk in an archive box.

 I’ve known my post was being deleted in the summer. Initially they gave me until December but extended this deadline to March. That means I’ve had months to get my head around the situation, plan a future, give my resources to schools, tout for business and blog about it before leaving.

 It’s weird though, living in a sort of limbo and I’ve gone from leaping out of bed in the morning at the prospect of going to work (no, really) to sometimes having to drag myself in. My self-confidence has been the main victim in all this and it’s hard to be positive in the face of any rejections.

But at least I’ve got a job. And if it all goes pear-shaped, I’ve had a good long training (thank you public sector) in teaching and could go back to the classroom. If I really, really had to.

 So you’re right private sector buddies, we’re luckier than most.  Let’s keep our chins up and think positive.

At least until Monday morning.

Name, rank and serial number

The business plan for the Department for Education  (DfE) has been published and it makes for interesting reading.

 The overall aims are well meaning but alarm bells started ringing for me at various points. The DfE will, ‘reform the school curriculum and qualifications.’

The curriculum needs regular tweaks and occasional overhauling to ensure that it meets the needs of pupils but I’m anxious about this one. Any major change to curriculum means schools will have to rewrite policies and plans, be trained in delivering the new curriculum and buy the required resources. A new exciting curriculum was set and ready to go under the previous administration but the baby and the bath water have gone out of the window and it looks like this government will be looking to the US for inspiration. Because we don’t have any inspirational educators here, right?

 There’s also a section on reviewing and reforming provision for children with special educational needs and if they don’t rope in Guerilla Mum to help with this, then they’re missing a trick.

 The rest of the document looks interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress.

 There is a section on transparency, however that makes for interesting reading. As several newspapers have picked up, schools will be expected to publish teachers’ pay, qualifications and absences.

 Will parents withdraw their children from a school because Mr. X has a few days off with a cold every January or Mrs. Y was off having a hysterectomy last year?

 Will little Johnny learn better from a teacher with a teaching degree or a subject-specific degree plus a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education)?

 Who’s the best Maths teacher? Her with the degree from Oxbridge and two years’ experience or him who went to the Poly and has twenty years’ experience?

 Perhaps there will have be a point system and if the teacher falls below a certain level they get shipped off to Shankem Comprehensive, the sink school for rubbish teacher and kids whose parents have too much going on in their lives to care much about parental choice.

 As for teachers’ pay, I’m not sure what this achieves but if teachers have to show their pay packets perhaps all public sector workers will have to. GPs waving their bank statements around? The military offering up name, rank, serial number, gross pay, tax and national insurance?

The prime minister has already humbly offered to accept a reduced pay packet in the name of public service. Which is very considerate. But I expect that most teachers don’t have a personal fortune worth squillions backing them up.

 So in the interest of transparency and to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow educators, here are my qualifications:

MA (school and college leadership and management)

B.Ed (hons 2:1) English and Drama

Grade seven clarinet (pass)

Sixth form French prize (no sniggering at the back.)

Cycling proficiency

Badges from brownies and guides: various including hostess, boatswain and jester.

 Who could possibly pass up a set of qualifications like that?



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