No Win – Always a Fee

I admire the multi-talented actor/writer/comedian Ricky Gervais not simply because he wrote the brilliant ‘Office’ but because he refuses to be pigeon holed in his sanitised, politically correct, Hollywood world that refuses to acknowledge the past and dares not to be critical of anything or anyone.  Take  his recent buttock clenching, astute hosting of the ‘The Golden Globes’ where he highlighted the Catholic church molestation and dared to mention the name Bruce Jenner, his car crash fatality pre his reformation as transgender Caitlyn.

The education world is now in a similar ‘frozen’, politically correct state where the holy sacraments of radicalisation, safeguarding and Ofsted come with a raft of edicts, always then accompanied by various businesses all who aim to ‘fleece’ the beleaguered, frightened headteacher, scared that they miss an incident that they might be held culpable for.

The start of my week last week typified the frenzied nature of being a headteacher.  The weekend brought 85 emails, only 20 of which were school related, and ranged from the advertising ‘must have’ educational gimmicks to ‘fabulous opportunities’ relating to:

  • the ubiquitous supply agencies offering tempting short term fixes for staffing with standard 10% fee included;
  • a group of magnanimous barristers willing to solve my legal problems – cost ‘no win, no fee’;
  • various essential staff training inclusive of e-safety CD, Prevent training in a day and all I and my governors need to know regarding ‘lockdown’;
  • the weekly request from my union ASCL to have my say on funding, teacher supply and attend CPD on the latest changes to required data in preparation for the ever threatening Ofsted, was another simply depressing email.

At least with email you have the cathartic option of the delete button.  The arrival of the Severn Trent water board is akin to greeting the Sheriff of Nottingham.  Their helpful comments that the ten foot high water fountain in our playground was ‘a leak’ and was our problem did not help my mood nor did his departing quip that the meter was running.  He could have joined the pundits of BT Sport, Michael Owen et al, stating the blindingly obvious.

Nevertheless, at least he had a sense of humour, a quality that had bypassed my next unwelcome visitor, the man with no name from the Health and Safety Executive.  His impromptu visit on this wet Monday morning was caused by his visit to our neighbours Sainsbury’s and his observation that the local contractor on our roof that overlooks Sainsbury’s car park, fixing the weekly roofing hole, was not wearing the required safety harness or jacket.  Despite his frightening ‘telling off’ of the contractor, son of boss & company, apparently this was my responsibility as they had walked past, ignored their sign and I was head of the centre.  A fine for us and ‘black mark’ in HSE notes and further advice that we needed to fix the water leak immediately!

I hoped that was it.  My PA, the wonderful Kim, discussed with me the final wording for our three adverts and how we could compete with the wealthier schools in more affluent local authorities.  With the wording correct, pack produced and up-to-date interview timeline ready for the likely influx of enquiries for PE/geography posts and my ever hopeful belief that someone wants to teach science, I finally exploded in Ricky Gervais monologue to no one in particular when informed that the TES were charging a minimum of £1,084 +VAT per ‘online only’ advert .  No wonder one of their columnists, headteacher Ms Smith of ‘Educating the East End’, proudly revealed that this programme has produced a plethora of applications, free advertising and a successful way of getting applications without the exorbitant advertising fees in the monopoly of the privately owned company.  For my school £3,000 for teaching adverts is too much and I will need to find ways of advertising our school that go beyond this blog and my twitter account of 100 select, astute followers!

All this had occurred by Monday lunchtime and not a child in sight!  Thankfully, class 7s preserved my sanity before the inevitable battle with the insurers with regards the seventy year old pipe not being damaged by the recent weather.  Meanwhile, the Severn Trent meter kept on turning – but what does it matter?  Public money not being spent on children – that’s the current government education policy.  Have a great week and look at our website for job vacancies; please pass it on – without a fee!