Plus ca change?

5th October 2007 at 01:00
There is to be a reshaping of council services. The new Rainbow Coalition wants to see joined-up provision and an end to "departmentalism". We are to be restructured around specific initiatives. We haven't had a restruc turing for two whole years now, and maybe people are becoming too com-fortable in their jobs. There is a real danger that some of my colleagues are actually getting to know their schools.

My old pal Julia, she of the Neeps and Tumshies initiative, is in charge of our part of the review, supported by Lars Sorensen the Council Champ-ion, as he is now styled. Julia would best be described as "nae real" by my Aberdonian grannie and adopts the latest fads and trends on a daily basis. She wants us to go away with the council spokespersons and engage in "stratospheric thinking" not always easy in October in Scotland.

We are to be locked away for three days in Glensburgh Lodge, a remote hotel. No phones, no booze and no Sky TV. Should be a hoot.

We have the obligatory Facilitator, break-out groups and witness sessions. The facilitator is straight out of an Absolutely Fabulous sketch, full of cliches, jargon and annoying man-nerisms. Julia is impressed. We are not.

After two days of twaddle, claptrap and boredom, we are on the verge of mutiny. The food is lousy, the beds are uncomfortable and the central heating isn't working. Julia is ecstatic. She feels that things are going "swimmingly" and we are on the verge of "great things". She is alone.

She likes me. I know. I decided to do my Song of Bernadette impersonation. I dressed accordingly. No make-up. Black dress. Hair tied back. Cruxifix. Sombre. Bible in hand, I knock on her door. She is reading The Economist. I swear I detected a whiff of gin, but I might have been mistaken. I am ushered in. Julia is all ears, as I give it the full works. "Julia, I have had a vision. I have seen the way forward. There was a blinding light and then I saw a river... " After half an hour, Julia is captivated. Lars would be delighted, she assured me.

And so it came to pass that my fellow prisoners were sent home early. Mission accomplished. The New World beck-oned. Tomorrow belongs to us. To boldly go. Onwards and upwards.

Spending was to be increased and fairly distributed. Initiative 1-Greater Educational Expenditure Supporting Everyone. More support was needed for the pre-school sector. Initiative 2-Social Workers Accessing Nursery Schools.

Julia announced the new initiatives to rapturous applause from the assembled politicians. No doubt Julia's Geese would be turned into Swans. But don't ask about their other initiatives such as the Teachers On Special School Assignments, Tackling Underachievement Before Education Starts, or the Properly Resourced Accredited Training Seminars please.

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