Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Little Bit of Politics... Yes Indeed!

What a week! I’ve been so busy that the raging torrent that was this mighty blogging adventure was in danger of meandering into scarcely babbling brook!

Still rumours have it that some of the blogs launched around the same time as Morgan PR and the Great Blogging Adventure have actually turned into the watercourse equivalent of an oxbow lake – and any veterans of ‘O’ Level Geography will remember what happens to an oxbow lake!

And what do you know! That educational metaphor has lead me neatly to talk about my life as a Community Governor at the John O’Gaunt Community Technology College – something that contributed to a busy deadline week for the December edition of the Newbury Business News! And a week where I produced three media strategies for new clients too!

I’ve been a school governor for over three years now and I cannot begin to describe how rewarding it is – well, actually I can and will: For me it is part of my ‘social contract’, and a way to offer something back to the community.

There is also the opportunity to operate at a strategic level within a large organisation. A school the size of John O’Gaunt is effectively an SME with all the issues that impact on most businesses – except our ‘products’ are children!

I am a former pupil of the school, but was invited to become a Community Governor after I delivered a media training package to the senior team at the school. My portfolio has grown and I currently chair the Curriculum and Assessment Sub-Committee, sit on the Personnel and PR Sub-Committees and I am a link Governor with responsiblity for English.

This week I was part of the team that made a presentation to West Berkshire Council to win the ‘Pathfinder’ money from central government to allow for an existing secondary school to be rebuilt.

I have to confess to being somewhat bewildered by the invitation to the top four schools to present ‘our case’ to West Berkshire Council. It seemed to me to be a token nod toward transparency and democracy after a comprehensive process had identified a school in Newbury as most suitable to be rebuilt.

Just consider; that process had firmly identified St. Bartholomew’s as the most suitable school in West Berkshire. However, the Executive insist that the decision has not been made and ask for a presentation. After which they choose St. Barts!

To be honest, if anyone else had been chosen I would have expected St. Barts to challenge it in the courts such was the weight of evidence! It seemed nonsense to suggest that the playing field was level by this stage.

Let’s hope that the Local Education Authority has heard what we need at John O’Gaunt and will spend and support us accordingly.

I was back at the school yesterday afternoon to meet and greet the candidates who have applied for the position of Assistant Head at John O'Gaunt; it was interesting to meet such an ambitious group of individuals.

However, the highlight for me was when one candidate seized upon my comment that I had been to the school and been in the last cohort to take 'O' Levels:

He offers: "You must be 42? 44? then?"
"No, I'm 36 in a week's time." I offer more cheerfully than I felt!
He scrabbled around to recover before another candidate told him to stop digging.

Fourty-four-years-old? Honestly!

As for the title of this post… another nod to the era of oxbow lake learning that you might recognise? He of the sparkling suits, bouffant hair and outsized glasses? (Actually sounds like me in the 80s!). Ben Elton! A little bit of politics... Yes, indeed.

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