Is it really less than a month since the city’s education department was accused of a “catalogue of failure” along with the city’s health authority and social services in a report from the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board?
The report was produced after a vulnerable ten year old, known to all these authorities, died when she fell into a scalding bath at her home. The city’s health authoritiy and the council’s children’s and young people’s care and education services were both comprehensively slammed for their failure to work together effectively to help this child.
Their assessments were totally inadequate, the report claimed, while the agencies had often been unable to communicate with each other effectively and there had been a lack of attention paid to the views of the child too.
So how has our glorious education department under the great helmswoman Heather Tomlinson responded?
By spending £102,000 on two more consultants’ reports of course.
First up, we have a brand new communications strategy, which – according to the council ‘s own figures – has cost us £9,400 so far since February, is still not finished and is unlikely to be for another three months!
This is despite the fact that the department already has a communications strategy and at least one communications officer to implement it. But hell, you can’t have too many communications strategies in a local government department can you?
More cash still – £92,229 of it to be precise – has also been handed to consultants Crapita, Britain’ Worst Firm, to produce a review on something called ‘management information’.
What this is all about is suspiciously opaque although it doesn’t have a lot to do with plain English that’s for sure. Here’s a sample:
2.1.2 The challenge facing CYPS over the next three years is how to select, plan and manage the development of their Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Information Management (IM) capability required to support the multi-agency and Children’s Trust agenda when requirements are not defined to a granular level and the end point itself is not clear and will continue to evolve.
Confused? Then here’s a bit more:
2.3.1 The four workstreams are connected through an integration strategy. Despite a number of changes anticipated, a CYPS information sharing model can be articulated together with the common functional requirements. The purpose of the strategy is to create an environment where relevant data can physically move between systems aiding practitioners in separate teams and roles to deliver common outcomes.
What does it all mean?
A lot more cash to Crapita I’m afraid. This isn’t a report making recommendations that can be implemented in any useful way for the benefit of local people to improve their schools and perhaps stop our young people dying I’m afraid.
What’s actually happened is that £92,000 of our money’s been spent buying a sales pitch that attempts to blind us with science in order to flog a very, very expensive, tailored piece of IT software to the gullible management of the education department.
Yep. It’s techno-fix time folks. Another proposal for yet another very expensive government IT project to solve all your problems.
What a joke. Anyone with any knowledge of goverment IT projects will know they’re invariably late, over budget and likely not to work. The equivalent of a green light at Bristol City Council in other words.
So expect an announcement from Tomlinson and the rest of the one million pound a year education management crew some time soon regarding a state-of-the art, multi-million pound IT scheme that will do nothing less than transform Bristol’s children’s service.
Will it fuck. It won’t even work. They never do.
The only question that really remains is whether education executive, bearded pillock Pickup and the rest of the clueless Labour Party high spenders in cabinet – who are supposed to exert control over the big-spending, low achiever executive officer naifs running the council – will be prepared to tell Tomlinson where to get off with this.
That’s highly unlikely. Instead just expect kids to keep dying and standards to keep crashing while upmarket consultants’ fill their boots.