Monday, March 07, 2011

Giving up for Lent?

Black Chair
Black Chair by Alex @ Faraway - used under Creative Commons
Shrove Tuesday is the day when, for some people, things are done for the last time before the liturgical season of Lent. This year, there's a chance I might be giving up something for longer. For a couple of months now I've been officially 'at risk of redundancy' - changes in government funding, plus the view of the Secretary of State that Local Authorities (and their staff?) appear to exist as a "bureaucratic intervention" (which I assume he doesn't mean in a positive way) - and so last week I put in a brief application form for my own job, or one like it. The post is School Improvement Adviser - a generic post (rather than a specific one like "ICT", "E-Learning" or "English"). If I don't get a job I can be considered for a job at a lower pay range, but if I still don't get a job then I'll be made redundant. If (for some reason) I'm offered a job but turn it down then I'll be considered to have resigned. Naturally I'm competing with colleagues for a number of roles that's less than the number of people applying - some will have applied for voluntary redundancy (I haven't) and some for potential reduced hours (I have). I know in some ways I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to apply, rather than (as appears to have happened in some LAs) being taken out the back of a County Hall and put to sleep with a mumbled apology - I've read the Redundant Public Servant ("News from the front line of deficit reduction") so I know what could (have) happen(ed).
It's an odd situation - when applying for most roles (other than in a brand-new startup, I guess) you'd have some idea who your colleagues would be, plus who you'd be working for, plus the broader environment in which your organisation is working... all sorts of things that I don't know for a variety of reasons. Maybe the startup analogy is a good one - the push of the White Paper is clearly to strip away responsibilities from Local Authorities, reducing their role to that of commissioners - to change the landscape and hence the nature of the organisations operating in it.
I'm not quite what the role of commissioner means - there are plenty of examples of commissioned services which haven't worked and even a cursory read of the Government's proposals sees many things which I'm already part of or have (in some measure) instigated being encouraged. You want schools working together? got it. Want innovation? Yup. Want examples from successful schools being used in those on the road to outstanding? Got it.
My chance to get a job lasts thirty minutes - a five minute presentation (no visual or audio presentation aids which is as - as anyone who's sat through anything I've ever presented knows, I can talk/bore for England) on a project I've worked on recently (that'll be Chick Cam then) - with a reflection on how problems were overcome and how I'd measure the success of it. Then twenty-five minutes for questions (of me). I'll know the four people interviewing me, and if my calculations are correct they are interviewing over 100 people in seven working days. Yikes.
So. It's the night before. I've read the White Paper and summarised what I think are the pertinent sections, gone over what the project's about (in that respect writing a blog post helped) - what else is there to do? Ah yes - iron a shirt. Tomorrow is supposed to be a lovely sunny spring day - do I spend the morning sat indoors worrying about what's happen at 2.30 in the afternoon? I'm tempted to dig the garden... anyway, see you on the other side. Maybe.
Daffodils by Danielle Boyle Photography. Used under Creative Commons.


  1. I hope all went well Ian.

    That good, world-leading, inspirational people like you are in such a dreadful situation as to be having to apply for their own jobs is something that should bring shame on those responsible for bringing such a thing to pass.