Wednesday, 26 May 2010

School's Out

Regular visitors to my ramblings will perhaps realise my opinion of Midlothian Council is not very high. Local government bureaucracy is something that affects many councils and having worked for Midlothian's local authority a few years ago, I know it's rife in the Big Pink Hoose in Dalkeith - otherwise known as the Council Headquarters.

My grandson Jack turned five years old earlier this month and will attend primary school for the first time in August (after the teaching profession enjoys its customary six week summer break) For the past year he has been attending a nursery school in the centre of Dalkeith which has the primary school attached - and where the progression of nursery children to primary school is made seamless. He has made a few friends at this nursery, the teachers say he's doing very well and - most important - he loves it there. So, no problem come August when Jack and his pals make the first of many big steps in childhood - going to primary school. No problem until the council bureaucrats stepped in...

Midlothian Council have reviewed the catchment areas of eight primary schools in the area. You can perhaps guess what's coming, dear reader - Jack is one of those children affected. His mother received a letter today advising that Jack will need to go to another primary school than the one previously advised - because he lives in a certain part of Dalkeith that is to be covered by another school. The many friends Jack has made in the last year will still head to the primary school they expected to go to - while the wee man will have to start all over again at a new primary school. A new school, new teachers, new schoolmates.

Daughter Laura will try and persuade the education people at the council to change the rules to let her son go to the primary school she wants - but she's not holding her breath. As is the norm with Midlothian Council there are consultation meetings and questionnaires to the parents asking for their opinions - but these tend to be token gestures. I suspect decisions have already been made.

One of the reasons I no longer work for Midlothian Council is because when I was there they were an utter shambles. When Laura and Michaela were at school not so many years ago, I was regularly locking horns with the education section. There was one occasion when St. David’s High School telephoned me at the office to advise that Michaela had not turned up for school. My heart sank as she had left the house in the morning as usual. I tried unsuccessfully to contact Mrs Smith and spent an uneasy couple of hours before the school phoned me back to say they had made a mistake - Michaela was there as usual. My opinion of St. David’s High School had never been high in any case - that day it sank to a new low. It sank further still when I received a report card for Michaela with her English teacher writing the words ‘Michelle lacks attention to detail…’ St. David’s High School was, occasionally, comedy gold.

However, this latest wheeze isn't funny. Starting school for the first time can be quite daunting for a child. Until today it wasn't something Laura or Jack were concerned about, given his progress at nursery this year. Now, it's a different matter.

As someone once said 'that's another fine mess you've gotten me into...'


Gillian said...

Stanley rocks!

wrick said...

I resent the association (even in jest) of the great Stan and Ollie with the sub-Keystone Cops crowd at "the Cooncil".

I reckon that Midlothian Council wouldn't have managed to get that piano up those stairs.

miruspeg said...

I hear your frustration Mike and I empathise with you and Laura.
Councils so often don't get it right and are too arrogant to listen to other points of view.
I will keep my fingers crossed for a miracle!
Peggy xxxx

Mike Smith said...

You're quite right Rick. Comparing the council to Stan and Ollie is a foul slur - on Stan and Ollie

And thanks, Peggy!

Mike Smith said...

I emailed the Council to voice my anger on Wednesday. But it was probably a coincidence that they contacted Laura today to say Jack can go to the school he was originally down for. And Hannah can join the same nursery in September.

Midlothian Council 0 The Smiths 1 (after extra-time...)

miruspeg said...

One miracle for the Smiths!
Fantastic news Mike.
Peggy :-)