According to Lord Laming, directors of council Children’s Services departments need to be retrained to understand the pressures of frontline social work. This will mean that they can support their staff properly.
According to the Vicar’s Wife, they also need to be retrained in postal logistics and basic form reading skills. And support their staff to do the same.
I applied for school places for the Queen and the Joker before we moved to the vicarage. We changed local authority from Wolverhampton to Sandwell. So I carefully completed Sandwell’s schools application forms, accompanied by a covering letter, for both children and hand delivered them to the reception desk of the Sandwell Children’s Services department. On a Friday morning.
When I called a week later to find out how they were getting on with my applications, I was told that the department had not received them until the Tuesday. My paperwork had taken three working days to move a few floors up in the building. Not a good first impression.
A few days later I called the school to find out if they’d heard anything. But apparently, they are told about children’s allocations to a school after the family. But the very helpful lady in the school office said she would call Children’s Services and then get back to me.
When she got back to me she told me that the children did have places (hooray!), but that Children’s Services had sent my letter about it to the Vicarage. Where I would not be living for another three weeks. As I had especially informed them in my covering letter and on the forms I had sent.
Children’s Services re-sent the letter to my Wolverhampton home. And I discovered that they had given places to Queen Vicar in Year One, and Vicar Joker in Year Three. So the Queen, who is seven, would be sitting in a class with a bunch of children two years younger than her and the Joker, who is six, would be stretched by being promoted to the Juniors. And being called by his surname instead of his first name.
Now I know that my children have rather unusual names and that the Joker’s first and sur- names could be interchanged to make a ‘normal’ name. But so can many people with Scottish heritage. Like the Vicar for instance, and the Engineer. But his sister and mother (I signed my name in the covering letter and on the form) have the same surname. AND I COMPLETED THE FORM CORRECTLY! With the right names in the right boxes and everything! And I can’t believe that in multicultural Sandwell, everybody is called ‘Jack Smith’ or ‘Jane Brown’.
So all in all, Sandwell Council have a bit of work to do to begin winning me over now. Three mistakes in their first piece of communication with me is not a good record sheet. I’m not surprised that this is the council that landed itself with The Public.