School of greed and self-seeking

8th September 2000 at 01:00
Anna Hughes writes the unofficial minutes of her governing body

Chairman Alan switches on his relaxed, "This-is-an-easy-agenda-item" smile, and invites the board to give a little thought to what we feel are the important issues for the coming academic year.

"It will give us all something to think about during the dying days of the summer holidays!" "Here's a major item for you," begins Charles, our wealthy representative from the world of industry, "The Atlas Development Corporation are planning to develop a huge site about three miles out of town. They have sounded me out on the idea of exchanging our very valuable central site for a made-to-measure new college campus on part of their development."

Silas, our finance director, cannot prevent his eyes lighting up like a cash register.

"What a wonderful planning gain," he gloats.

"Wait a minute!" Mary, the teacher governor, seeks to remind us of our basic role. "That would isolate us from the town and destroy our role in the community."

A look of wary despair accompanies the contribution from Fergus, our university governor. "We have the prospect of separate 16-plus and adult education inspections. The preparation and documentation this will involve doesn't bear thinking about - and we must improve our governorship grading. At least at my university we only have one inspection."

"To be quite honest," I chip in, "all this preparation makes a mockery of an inspection. If we can't get a good grade wihout months of preparation, the college management must clearly be deficient."

At this slur on the level of competence at the top, Rex, the principal, makes a mental note to remove me from his Christmas card list. But his frown quickly changes to a smile when he realises the potential of the Atlas scheme.

"On the bright side there is a real possibility of absorbing the local sixth form college. Their numbers are down and they can't offer the range of subjects that we can."

"Empire-building again, Rex!" says Charles. "You will need that new out-of-town campus."

"What we should be doing," says Mary, "is addressing the needs of our senior citizens by offering suitable study courses, perhaps delivered in residential homes and creating a school of geriatric care."

Silas looks ill at ease.

"There is no money in it."

"Never mind, Silas," grins Fergus, "we'll give you a free place on the courses!" Silas is not amused, but he carries on: "Another problem we face is developing a good relationship with the new Learning and Skills Council. They will hold the purse strings for all post-16 education and training, so we will compete in a much wider field."

"Even more important is filling in the pot-holes in the car park," says Charles. "I'll bill the college for a new suspension on my Bentley if you don't sort that out!" If such an innocent agenda item can arouse such strong feelings, it must be time to open the wine and sample the refreshments.

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