TOOLKIT. Email from Cath at Encouraging Stimulus. Upstairs are very keen to talk up a new wave of school buildings. Could we think through a Toolkit for effective local education project partnerships? Oh, come on Cath - we're representing the Department on Eggheads in less than a month. We're BUSY. We advise her to set up an online forum. Ask teachers for their feedback. Then she can forward all the best ideas to private sector contractors and await further instructions, as usual. The phone goes. Caz picks up and pulls a face. It's Scary Paula, who is adamant that we WILL devise this new Toolkit. "And we want proper metaphorical tools as well, for the illustrators ..." You know what, Paula? says Caz. Why don't you embed your bloody Toolkit up your delivery channel and just waddle off! We have better things to do, OK? We all cheer. Caz has spoken for all of us, having prudently waited until Scary Paula has hung up.
SPIRIT LEVEL. We look through the notes for the Toolkit. God, there's loads of stuff here. Still can't work out why the public sector needs to share some stupid PFI guidebook with developers. I mean, we all know LEAs are "partners" in the construction process, but only in the sense that dairy cows and farmers are partners in the milk industry. Coffee and biscuits arrive, and the surge of blood sugar gives us our first breakthrough. Let's call key performance indicators the spirit level, as they ensure that building partnerships occur on a level playing field, with PE perhaps transferred to the local leisure centre.
SPANNER. Yeah, and let's say collective partnership targets are like the spanner, keeping everything tight, including the budget. Hm. We decide to make it an adjustable spanner in case the contractor discovers he hasn't got as much in the bank as he thought and has to cut out the staff room, say.
SCREWS. After lunch we rattle through the rest of the Toolkit. Shared vision, that can be the protective goggles. A balanced approach to ensure holistic assessment of key measures - that's like a ladder, right? External stakeholders can be the screws. We're about to send it all off and get back to our Eggheads prep when Owen spots two Aims we've forgotten about.
FINISH. Brainwave. We'll call these "painting and decoration". The dissemination of existing good practice can be the undercoat. And the goal of education transformation is the whitewash. We bundle up the Toolkit and send it off for illustration. On reflection it seems odd there's nothing in the Toolkit about aspirations, though I suppose they'll just ring round to get a few estimates and go with the lowest. Inchworm.