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Right Royal Mail cock-up

Among the Royal Mail's recent achievements have been the spectacular consistency of meeting absolutely none of its 15 targets for an acceptable service, the scrapping of the second post, and the axing of 30,000 jobs.

This week, the once-proud service plumbed new depths by causing the last-minute cancellation of the annual conference of the National Association of School Based Initial Teacher Trainers.

The association had an impressive speaker list for the event on Tuesday, including the Department for Education and Skills' David Hopkins and the Teacher Training Agency's Ralph Tabberer. But the whole shindig had to be binned when organiser Jim Hudson, head of Two Mile Ash school in Milton Keynes, noticed that only 40 out of the 300 invited had responded. On investigation, he discovered that 200 out of the 300 had never received their invites, sent from a post box opposite the school in October.

A Royal Mail spokeswoman questioned if Hudson had put addresses on the packages. When assured he was not a complete moron, she suggested it was normal for commercial junk mail to have a low take up. When assured Hudson was not peddling junk but inviting a people to a conference, she said the Royal Mail was not aware of problems with its service in the Milton Keynes area. Which should all make us all very afraid for our postal service.

Hudson is rescheduling his conference for February. Various means of notifying members, including alpine horns and smoke signals, are being evaluated.

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