Friday, 11 January 2008
Staunton-on-Wye Part II
Many years ago I worked on a specialist medical unit where mortality was approximately 50% per admission. I managed to stick it out for longer than most but one day a patient complained to my consultant that he didn't like me because I didn't smile. A few weeks later my consultant suggested radiology might be a good career choice for me. It's like being told I had the looks for a career as a radio presenter.
I read somewhere once that you should want your pathologist to be a pessimist. The same applies to radiologists so I am well suited to my work. I know radiologists who are nice jolly people and they don't make very good radiologists. I, on the other hand, start off with the assumption that each scan I look at harbours a tumour which is going to cut short a life and destroy a family. All I have to do is keep looking until I find it. I think it makes me a good radiologist but a miserable person to know.
I awaited the results of our Local Authority Review on Education suitably pessimistic. In fact I was planning the next stage of the campaign to save the school and was looking into the cost of banners to drape across one of the main route from Mid and West Wales into England which passes through Staunton-on-Wye and wondering if I could cut templates out of X-ray film so that a crack squad of villagers could go out at night and spray paint our slogans on public buildings.
When the result was published today there was no mention of our school but an axe had been taken to primary and secondary education in Herefordshire. Some of our best schools were to close or be incorporated into unpopular ones. Some parents who had recently moved to the area and bought a house near a good school saw their plans ruined. The cuts were more savage than anyone had expected and most people in Herefordshire had no idea that such cuts were even being considered. Parents in Herefordshire are in a state of shock tonight as they begin to plan for transporting their children across the county to the surviving schools or figuring out if they can afford to educate their children privately. In one move, and without consultation, a small unelected group of officials have hatched a plan to deprive the population of a high quality local education for their children. Without warning, headmasters and mistresses at 37 schools were told they are to be made redundant and will have to apply for any remaining jobs.
I don't know a great deal about political interference in local education but there is the "Stalinist Central Control's" fingerprints all over this. The local education department claimed the closures were necessary to access central government funds for new buildings. This looks very much like the privatisation of education. The plan goes like this. Close the existing locally managed schools or else be starved of funds. In return for closures and staff redundancies Central Government will provide a shiny new school (preferably in a Labour voting inner city area) built with PFI money and owned and run by a NuLabour supporting private company. Employ staff under locally negotiated (imposed) T&C of service and make sure the person in charge of the school is a Believer and "on message". Far fetched? Well I always look on the dark side but isn't this what is happening in health care?
My children have not been completely spared. The state school we chose is to lose its 6th form requiring them to go to a ghastly "sink school" on the rough side of town which, instead of being closed down, has been increased in size and given a new name and fancy website. I don't know if they removed the razor wire and security cameras when they changed the name; its not a part of town I ever venture into.