STAFFROOM by Willie Slavin
THE sanity of all those involved in the educational process is frequently questioned. One only has to contemplate life in the acronymical wonderland that education has become, to begin to understand why. Hardly a day has passed in the last five years since ERA spawned NCC, SEAC, LMS and GMS that schools have not received some missive or another from the DES (now the DfE). Once upon a time most seven year olds had every right to believe that SAT was something a cat did on a mat. It is just possible that by June of this year, as in the past three years, a few such children will still not be able to read it but they will certainly know that it does not feel too good, even before the news hits the public domain.
This particular innovation is of course part of the accountability process that has now seen the introduction of OFSTED as a replacement for HMI. So, now that children are "satted" at the end of each KS and schools are "ofstedded" every four years, the nation's parents and employers can sleep easily.
At this point I have to publicly question my own sanity by admitting that I am party to the introduction of the very latest acronym to hit Catholic education. AGSC has become part of my life and like so many things Catholic, started off. at least for me, with an overly friendly, ever so slightly concerned request to"..think of a Primary Headteacher who wouldn't mind representing the Diocese at a Conference in Leeds over the Palm Sunday weekend." Since then I have attended three meetings in Birmingham, two in Lancaster, one in Crewe and by now five (it could be more) in London. I have even been to Accrington. As someone pathologically unsuited to the role of midwife, (credit for the conception rests with others) I have waited hand and foot on the delivery of the Association of Catholic Schools and Colleges which saw the light of day on the feast of the Epiphany. I had almost convinced myself that being this far removed from the ERA of 1988, my sanity was probably intact. Well I did until last Saturday. There I was, having given up a Saturday to attend a meeting of ACSC in London. arriving at Euston Station on the way home with two hands full of baggage and one oxter full of newly acquired (and very attractive) Association notepaper. Now. after that many visits to London, I get the unmistakably distinctive flavour of British Rail coffee and sandwiches at the sight of a timetable, so having time to spare. I stopped at the crusty sandwich outlet to stock up for the journey. The package had to find a "temporary" resting place on a ledge just below counter level. Some six hours later, from the safest of distances in West Cumbria, I tentatively phoned Euston Station to enquire if someone had handed in an A4 size box containing several hundred sheets of distinctive notepaper bearing my name and address. A kindly gentleman listened, apologised for not being able to help but invited me to call Lost Property after 9am on Sunday. "By the way" he enquired. "what time did this take place?" "Four o'clock," says L
"Mrnml says he. "We did have a security alert just after that."
The package has still not reached Lost Property. I cannot deny that I am on record as hoping that the new Association's launch would go off with a bang but I swear that a controlled explosion never entered my head.
As for the sanity. I have to rest my case but never unattended at Euston Station.
Willie Slavin is secretary for the new Association of Catholic Schools and Colleges, and headteacher of Sr Begh's Junior School, Cumbria.