Jobsworths: the scourge of education and how to deal with them


Today it was Founder's Day at Oswestry and an opportunity to catch up with pupils of the recent past (I've only been at the school for three years). It is rather wonderful to hear what they've been up to since they left and hear their stories of what it was like 'back in their day'.
One particular pupil got me thinking though. This individual, who left a couple of years ago, had struggled with GCSEs and so A-levels were never going to be an option. We secured him a place on a vocational course at an FE college. I was horrified to hear that he'd dropped out of the course after less than a year and restarted a different one at a different college this September. The reason? He hadn't been allowed to work in a classroom during his study periods and found himself unable to concentrate in the public areas assigned for his non-contact time. It turned out that his teachers had told him that whilst they were 'on their breaks' they couldn't be responsible for him and so he was turfed out to fend for himself.
What kind of idiot regime has allowed this sort of thing to happen? This lad is a vulnerable individual, who needs support. How much effort would it really have taken to make special accommodation for his needs? I know exactly the sort of arguments that will have been advanced: 'health and safety'; 'union rules'; 'rights to protected non-contact time'... But these are a smokescreen for bone-idleness and/or a mindset so poisoned by corporate culture that all common sense has been thrown out of the window. The really sad thing, I suspect, is that even those staff in this establishment who do possess a modicum of common sense probably feel that the management wouldn't support them in the extremely unlikely event that something did go wrong. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that the lad should be left alone in a room full of circular saws or controlled chemicals, but come on... No one is able to organize a quiet space for him to work?
I have long admired the management advice of John Timpson and am particularly drawn to this sign, which hangs in many of his shops:

Heaven forbid I ever work in a school where staff don't feel empowered to use their common sense and do the best for the children they are serving.

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