So, since then I have been providing “emergency cover” for one of my rural primary schools. This is the tiny village up in the hills which has terrible phone reception, is in the middle of nowhere and is falling apart (the buildings etc).
It’s a l-o-n-g story so I won’t go into it too much. but suffice to say it is taking up a lot more of my life than originally thought. There is a great deal to sort out. The previous office manager had been unwell and has now resigned so it looks like I will be in situ for a few months yet. In actual fact, the Headteacher and I are currently wrangling with the HR department about contracts - rates of pay, grade-scales, hours of work etc etc blah blah blah. I have already clocked up over 120 hours of extra cover time – so I am keen to get this clarified as soon as possible. Since being treated so shoddily by DCS I am even more cynical than ever and am actually being a bit of a “toughie” and being assertive (it’s a bit scary and I’m out of my comfort zone for sure).
However, as part of my ‘argument’ the school administration is in complete dire straits! It seems that some BIG things have been out-of-control for a number of months, and this has just come to light - particularly issues with finances / accounts and, more worryingly, with a number of concerns about the SCR too. For those that do not know, the SCR is “Single Central Register” and is a statutory requirement in every UK school – all to do with safeguarding and HR records, like references, employment, qualifications etc. Basically, if the SCR is not up-to-date or following appropriate procedures then a school is in BIG TROUBLE and can fail inspections and so on and so forth. GULP!
So, I’m doing A LOT of school office “fire-fighting” and am attempting to get as much as possible under control – although nothing to do with figures because, well, I’m not interested in finances!!! And I am USELESS.
On the other side of general administrative things, I keep finding jobs that are half-done or not even started and whilst some are not particularly difficult these tasks generally take a lot of time and fiddling about to organise…. For example, liaising with the NHS vaccination team to get 88 children their nasal flu vaccinations, and various school trips including 25 Reception and Year 1 children (average 5 years old) to the Black Country Museum …. Including coach hire, emergency contacts, parent helpers with (or without) DBS clearance because of Child Protection rules and so on and so forth. On the horizon there is also the whole-school trip to see the Dick Whittington Panto at Chipping Norton Theatre, various concerts and vocal workshops, the Nativity Play, church services and so on, and so on, It has been a case of “panic stations” in all honesty – from the teaching staff – and of course, I am trying to come up with the goods whilst maintaining a cheerful, calm and positive image (ha! ha!).
And, of course, there is all the normal day-to-day stuff to deal with, and that can be bad enough sometimes… registers (statutory requirement, obviously), lunches, parents’ queries and observations [groan], lost jumpers / t-shirts / hats, gloves and scarves, delivery guys, tearful fallings-out with best-friends in the playground and a variety of snotty noses and bloody knees – and that’s just the teachers?*!
So – that’s me. Paul is also busy. He has been up at The Cotswold Farm Park this week for the beginning of setting up the Light Trail for the Christmas thing. He also has done a little studio cover at The Everyman and working at Malvern Showground doing a set-up for their Christmas Show. To date, he hasn’t had a day off in nearly three weeks – and most days start at 8am and he doesn’t get to leave until 6pm at the earliest. As you can imagine he is shattered – and completely over all the additional problems that come with heavy rain and electrics!!
This excerpt is from a weekly update I receive from a church-based charity called Wayside Chapel in a suburb called King's Cross in Sydney. They do a lot for homeless people - but much, much more. I never visited the chapel, and neither am I a religious person, but I like the sentiments of the 'pastor and CEO'. He talks a lot of sense, has a great sense of humour, is down to earth and appears to genuinely care.
I took these photos at least a week ago when there seemed to be sunshine and not the absolute deluge we have been experiencing recently. Also, I haven't made it up into the garden for days because it's been either too dark, too wet or I've just not been here (mainly the latter!).
I think the Rudloe Arms is owned by MPW but is also part of a franchise (developed 2013) called Black And White Hospitality. The business operates a franchise model which allows property owners to open one of the eight Marco Pierre White branded restaurants within their property – names including, for example, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, Mr White’s English Chophouse, Wheeler's of St James’s Oyster Bar & Grill Room, Wheeler’s Fish & Chips, Bardolino Pizzeria Bellini & Espresso Bar and Marconi Coffee & Juice Bar.