Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Al Quaeda Training Day

Or so you would have thought.

We are dominated by Rules. Whether it's confusing parking restrictions, overzealous Governmental bureaucrats sticking to the letter of the Law or scumbags on Court asserting their Yuman Rites over and above the person they have just violated, Rules are everywhere, used and abused.

This post is prompted by someone unknown to me having a rant about the way that holiday companies yank up prices during holiday times.. Now, to me, that is on Page 1 of 'Economics for Dummies', namely Price = Demand divided by Supply. Increase demand and the price goes up. As a parent of school age kids, it grates, but as a Business owner, I have to see their point. Make hay whilst the rain falls less heavily.

You see that the problem lies, not with the Holiday Companies looking to turn a profit on 4% Gross margins, whilst the Airlines constantly turn the screw tighter, it lies with the Government, specifically Ofsted and the schools.

Ofsted sets the standards and the schools, wanting to shine, comply with them. One of these standards is attendance records of the pupils. If it drops, the school gets downgraded. As a result, the schools live in fear of the absent pupil and exert punishment on those that attempt to breach them.

Schools are so scared of Ofsted Stats that to get a day off school, you need a Death Certificate of a parent signed by three doctors,1 Magistrate and your MP unless you want your child's record folder to be stamped "Troublemaker" in red ink.
We asked for one day off to go to a 1st Cousin's wedding this term. You would have thought by their reaction that we'd asked to go on an Al Quaeda training day. We received back an A4 letter form the Head explaining that Voldermort himself would avenge any unauthorised time off.

This was my nephew's wedding. A one-off occasion, to which my children (his first cousins) were invited. Unfortunately, we're not all on Head Teachers' salaries and to meet the cost, it was held on a Thursday, which apparently reduced the price by 50% (Supply & demand again). If we'd have taken the kids, each would have had a black mark against the record (unauthorised absence) and we as parents would have been fined. As this was his first year in Secondary School we chose to not rock the boat. Apparently the fact that he scooped the Trophy for the best performing pupil in his year group that year held no sway. He would suffer with bad exam results and end up in some menial job for the Government. Ofsted Policy maker, for instance.

What a shame, no compassion, no flexibility and the kids miss out on a tremendously happy occasion through no fault of their own. Education is not just about learning from Teachers. It's the Birds, the bees, Social Skills and just enjoying being a child before it's too late.

One day, some liberated Head teacher will wake up and say 'Stuff Ofsted', we'll spit out well rounded pupils that may or may not cause the school to quite reach all these absurd targets".

It's the same with the Ambulance Service. The Government (some non-frontline Jobsworth) has decided that the targets for responding to the most serious of 999 calls are based on time of arrival, not patient outcome. Get there in 8 minutes and 1 second and the patient survives. Fail. 7:59, but the patient has popped his clogs. Wey hey, a pass! Anyone else see the absurdity in that?

It is so easy, from a distance to say 'No' and stuff up a project, an event, a Life decision. Let's toast those that take Richard Branson's approach - "Screw it, let's do it". Cheers.