Student power!

Today MPs will vote on whether to raise university tuition fees and Nick Clegg and his fellow lib dems are expected to vote in favour despite being vocal in their election campaign against this (did you see Sarah Teather being chased down the street by a Sky news reporter?). Students have not taken this lying down. They have been on marches and demonstrations for the last few weeks and another is planned for today. There are sit-ins and protests and banner-waving across the country from university students and school pupils.

 Yesterday it felt like I couldn’t listen to the radio or the TV news without a conservative student with an accent that could cut glass defending this decision. One young chap on the BBC news sputtered that some students didn’t even fully understand what they were protesting about. I don’t doubt it. I hazard a guess that many of the young people on marches don’t have a full understanding of the situation but what they do understand is that things are Not Fair and they’re going to do what teenagers do best and rebel.  

 Yes, there have been some idiots breaking stuff, graffiti-ing stuff and making a nuisance of themselves and they really haven’t done their cause any favours but the majority are there for what they believe to be a righteous cause. 

 It’s good to see teenagers involved in something that isn’t just vodka-flavoured and the girls who held hands around the police van to stop people attacking it were a joy to see. Proper Citizenship in action rather than a worksheet in a classroom.

 It will be interesting to see what happens later today.

 What do readers of this blog think about revolting students?


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…

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super council!

We’ve had easy councils and now we’re faced with super councils. Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea are considering joining forces in order to weather the huge cuts they’re facing in the next few years and I think it could work. Obviously each council is very different and has different needs but with some careful planning and collaborative working this could be ironed out.

I’m employed by one London council but work across three so in a microcosm, I understand how this could work. The councils each have a very different ethos with very different systems and structures and I’ve had to find a way of working with schools that dovetails with each authority’s needs. To begin with, it was bloody hard work but as we settled down together, it’s become a better and certainly more economical way of working. We share expertise and good practice across all three and that can only be good for our clients.

So here are my top tips for becoming a super council:

· As Harry Hill used to say ‘You gotta have a system.’ You have to be super organised and have systems and ways of working that can be understood by everyone.

· You have to take your stakeholders and clients with you. This is an additional step that is well worth the hassle and arguments. You might think you’ve got it all sussed and you probably have, but you need to bring everyone with you on your journey- they will be your biggest allies.

· You need to have crystal clear channels of communication. Again, a hassle but well worth the extra time and effort. If you’re used to being autonomous, the sudden interest from others can be annoying but again, in the long run, it’s worth it as everyone will be on your side and will be well informed (see above).

· You can’t be precious about your stuff- your stuff is now everybody else’s stuff. This is a criticism often levelled at public services- we are far too precious about our own jobs and our own staff. Play nicely and share with the other kids, ok, and then they are more likely to share back.

· Be flexible. You may need to change your precious and well thought out arrangements in order to fit in with others and their weird IT systems.

· Delegate. Your way is not the only way and sometimes someone will need to lead on something that you’ve previously led on. They might do it differently but this is not necessarily worse than yours. It’s just different.

· Take your time- change happens slowly and you might be in a rush to get started but it’s better to wait and get everything sorted out before rushing in headlong.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this works out and if you need a consultant to help out, you know who to call…

CSR Redux

The Headmaster looks on as Osborne speaks up in assembly.

I fully intended to blog about the CSR yesterday but was running training for teachers all day and as not everything went according to plan, all I could do was sit in front of the TV last night and eat cakes and dribble.

So here’s my summary of how it went.

Chancellor: Right you lot we’re going to be making lots of cuts and those with broad shoulders will take the burden of the cuts and the cuts will be FAIR.
Crowd: [mutter, mutter.]
Chancellor: We’ll need to lose almost half a million public sector jobs which is not very nice but IT’S NOT OUR FAULT. A big boy called Gordo did it and ran away.
Crowd: [grumble, grumble.]
Chancellor: To make it FAIR there will cuts across each government department because we don’t want to bully anyone in particular. Did I mention it was FAIR and IT’S NOT OUR FAULT?
Crowd: [foment, foment, revolt, revolt.]
Speaker: Right that’s it. It’s not my time you’re wasting. I could sit here all day but if you want to have any playtime left you’d better stop that muttering and listen or you’ll all be in detention.
Chancellor: We’ll be handing over the decisions about redundancies to local authorities. That way it will all be FAIR because the overpaid senior executives will be the ones in charge of the cull and I’m sure they will all take huge pay cuts themselves while ensuring that those on lower salaries are protected because we have to make cuts and IT’S NOT OUR FAULT. You see there was this big boy called Gordo and he’s the one what done it.
Crowd: [mutter, mutter.]
Speaker: What did I tell you about muttering, class?
Chancellor: And we’re overhauling the benefits system to get people back into jobs cos we don’t want any unemployed layabouts.
Crowd: [simmer, simmer]
Chancellor: What’s that, crowd? What jobs? Well I’m sure something will turn up.
Evan Davies: Do you have a plan B, Chancellor?
Chancellor: Oh it’s you Davies. Didn’t I flush your head down the bog in the lower fourth?
Evan Davies: Just answer the question, Chancellor: do you have a plan B?
Chancellor: we don’t need a plan B because it will all be fine and anyway IT’S NOT OUR FAULT because a big boy called Gordo did it and ran away.
Evan Davies: Plan B, Chancellor, Plan B do you have a Plan B? Tell me if you have a Plan B, a Plan B is essential do you have one, do you? [dribble, dribble.]
Chancellor: May we go out to play now please, Speaker?
Speaker: Very well but don’t forget your coats, it’s chilly out there. And play nicely. Davies? See me after class.

Comprehensive Stendhal Review

The closest I’ve come to experiencing Stendhal’s syndrome was on a trip to Egypt. The sheer magnificence of the ancient Egyptian architecture was such that after a while my brain simply couldn’t cope with the sight of another temple and I was desperate for the cooling balm of a grey office block swathed in drizzle. And no more bloody donkeys.

 I’m beginning to feel a little like this with the spending cuts. At first they were awesome and terrifying and I gazed up at them, shaking my head in wonder. But like those temples they’ve come so thick and fast that I’m feeling dizzy. My poor little brain just can’t cope with any more.

Them: We’ll have to let you go. Sorry, I mean your post is being deleted!

Me: Oh my God what will I do, I’m doomed, the world is doomed, save me! I’ve got one of those huge mortgage thingies they used to give out to everyone.

Them: And we’re cutting schools budgets.

Me: Oh bloody hell, that’s just unfair you greedy lot. Whatever next?

Them: Well we’re slashing the Quangos with gay abandon! Take that useless Quangos!

Me:  I’m sure we can live without Quangos.

Them: While we’re at it, we may as well slash all public sector services. And yes that includes you teachers, nurses and police officers.

Me: Yeah, feckless lot! Get a proper job.

Them: But we’ll make sure that bankers’ bonuses are protected because we wouldn’t want the poor bankers to suffer.

Me: Hurrah! Please take the shirt from my back and the shoes from my feet so the bankers don’t have to suffer. 

Them: And X factor is on again.

Me: Phew, I thought we were all going to hell in a handcart.

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