Thursday, March 22, 2007

Abusing Waiters

I went to Manchester today for a British Council meeting on ‘Making Links’. Streuth! There’s an absolutely bewildering array of trips, awards and seminars you can apply for in a range of exotic locations – if you can only negotiate your way through the thicket of web sites and application forms.

As the EU oversees everything some of the form filling and language is Byzantine in its complexity. You don’t have visits but ‘mobilities’ and the Belgium’s have three organisations to contact – the Flemish speaking, French speaking and one for the 20,000 German speakers. Why can’t they just get on with each other?

There were some interesting case studies but what really raised my hackles was one involving public schools in England where the pupils (paid for by the British Council) had visited several European countries. What is it with these people? They opt out of the state system but they expect massive tax concessions (they’re “charities” don’t you know), employ teachers who have been trained at the state’s expense and then use EU money to go on a Cook’s Tour. Thousands of children never have any type of holiday. Maybe this is just getting them used to a life of privilege where they can abuse waiters, slam car doors late at night, talk in a loud voice in public and trouser billions in City bonuses.

Before I went into a full Dave Spart rant and embarrassed the assembled suits by asking an impertinent question I was distracted by a brilliant presentation by two teachers from a school in Moss Side. Most of their children hadn’t been further than the local park, but they’d taken them to Ireland and Spain – the world was their oyster. What finally stole it for me was when they scorned the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. If only I could get a job there. Hope springs eternal in the human breast.

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