Friday, July 22, 2011

A hard lesson for the Institute for Learning?

While Michael Gove gains an unenviable reputation as a meddler in the world of compulsory education, his attitude to the further education sector seems to be, to say the least. How else to explain both his failure to visit an FE college since taking office and also his willingness to allow a closed-shop to flourish in the form of the Institute for Learning (IfL)?
Having managed to avoid the ‘bonfire of the quangos’ – a fate that befell its sister organisation the General Teaching Council (GTC) - the IfL has now announced that its - generally reluctant – associates, members and fellows, who rejoice in the acronyms AIFL, MIFL and FIFL, will have to stump up £38.00 for the dubious privilege of belonging to an organisation that is, for many, a prerequisite to continued employment in the sector.
The imposition of this levy comes at a very bad time in FE, with colleges and other providers fearing deep cuts to funding with the inevitable loss of courses and jobs. Yet the IfL, which is highly adept at portraying itself as being essential for the career and professional development of teachers and trainers, feels it is justif in becoming self-funding on the less than auspicious date of April 1 this year. In reality, the move was forced on it as the government has announced it is no longer going to pick up the tab of paying the full cost of all subscriptions, as has been the case since the IfL was formed in 2006.
Needless to say, the lecturers and their union, the UCU, are far from pleased. The UCU is balloting members for a boycott of the IfL, with the result that AIFLs, MIFLs and FIFLs now questioning whether they need the IfL could refuse to stump up £38.00 to belong to an organisation whose much vaunted, and largely self-publicised, benefits and services mainly consist of a pointless online database on which they have to record the endless round of meetings and training events that represent the necessary number of continuous professional development (CPD) hours they have to undertake each year as a pre-condition of retaining their professional status.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Driving licence blues

The request from the Bureau de Change clerk was simple enough: "have you got any photo ID on you?".
"Sure, I've got my driving licence". After moving house last October, I finally swapped my paper licence for the photo-card type and it always stays in my wallet. But not last Friday. A furious pat-down self-search followed, accompanied by "helpful" prompts from spouse and clerk. "I'll have to come back later", I muttered, leaving the Bureau with wife reluctantly in tow behind.
The most obvious question, after turning drawers upside down, was "where did you last have it". "Can't remember" was the equally obvious, but totally useless answer.
The previous evening we'd done last minute shopping for the Canada trip (which includes car hire - hence the need for a driving licence...) and bought clothes and luggage from several shops at Junction 32, a retail outlet near Castleford, West Yorkshire.
So I got out all the credit card slips and shop receipts and we called round t shops and cafe we'd visited, plus the centre's security department. All drew a blank. Even called the baker's shop where I'd bought a lunchtime sandwich. Nothing. Next point of call? Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency, Swansea. They were surprising helpful - a new licence could be ordered over the 'phone for a £20 fee. But there was a cost-saving catch: while they could dispatch it the next working day (Monday, as it turned out), DVLA only uses second-class post. No express service or guaranteed next day. Just real snail-mail.
And there you have it. Three days to go and waiting for the Royal Mail to deliver the replacement licence. My wife isn't looking forward to being the only other driver in the group - and I'm not looking forward to accompanying her in that capacity as a licence-less non-driver, when we wend our way through the Rockies from Jasper to Calgary.