Half term has just begun and I am very relieved to have a few days ahead where I can spend a few more minutes in bed of a morning. Plain Lazy is not my favourite t-shirt company for nothing. So this week I am going to gather myself together to prepare for what I am expecting to be a busier time ahead. Oh, and take the kids to London to stay with Nanna and Grumpy Grandpa and visit some museums, obviously. I may be lazy but I have an organised mother.
Last week I managed to add a couple of extra responsibilities to my life. Since the Engineer has started full time school, I have been wasting too much time faffing about. I always seem to get more done when there’s more to be done. So I am now officially a school governor and, following much red tape and council bureaucracy, I am also – ta-daaa – a school volunteer. So now I’m Vicar’s Wife, Parent, Governor and Volunteer. I only need to start supervising dinners and I’ll have a full house.
I shall be going into school for two mornings a week to read with Year 6 and Year 2 pupils. I’m sure there’ll be much fodder for blogging, but I’ve signed the school’s paperwork agreeing to confidentiality. So I’ll not be able to share anything with you guys. Sorry. I’m looking forward to helping out in a school which has 35% pupils with special needs and some from difficult home situations.
I know a bit about the governors, because the Vicar is already on. I’ve been reading his stuff a bit so I’m already vaguely in the loop. Sadly my school gate pal Neatnic didn’t apply – she’d wanted to but couldn’t face writing the 75 word manifesto that I struggled with.
I’ve often heard local parents talk about wanting to get involved at school but they then seem to find the actuality too hard. It’s obviously not helped by the ridiculous bureaucracy that seems to have grown up around volunteering – CRB forms, council applications etc. But I think others are still nervous around teachers, seeing them as the grown ups, as if they themselves were still at school.
One of my aims in helping out at school is to help some of these parents make the step into school. I’m not sure how – any tips would be very welcome.
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Posted in Sandwell, Vicar's wife job description, tagged bureaucracy, council, CRB, Criminal Records Bureau, enhanced disclosure, forms, Nanny state, Sandwell Council on 19 October, 2009|
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The bureaucracy is criminal
I have recently volunteered to hear kids at our school read. This means that I need an enhanced CRB disclosure. I can completely understand why schools need to ensure that people in contact with the children need to make some checks. Children need to be protected from dodgy characters.
What I fail to understand is why my existing enhanced CRB disclosure, obtained in July this year, is not acceptable to Sandwell Council. I got that disclosure for helping on a young people’s residential summer holiday, where I had far more access to youngsters than I will sitting in a classroom once a week. Our sensible diocese did accept my existing disclosure for my work with young people in church on Sundays. The diocesan policy is to accept ones less than six months old where the applicant has been known to the church all that time.
When I made a comment on my Facebook status about this earlier today, and got the following comments from Vicar’s wife friends:
- The Nurse told me ‘I was going in last year but then I got all that to fill in during the summer in order to carry on this year and I must admit, I haven’t done them yet. I’d mostly been helping my own child in the classroom and hearing them all read, do I really need a police check for that!? I’m going to need a police check to look after them at home next!’
- Dr Life commented ‘If had had them for everything I needed them for I would have needed 6 at one point last year’.
- Snap said ‘I’ve got 5 current ones for various things I do. It’s crazy, especially as they’re only really relevant from the day you are ‘certified’ and different organisations have different guidelines on how often they need to be redone’.
Sandwell Council, bless their hearts, like to make it even more of a pain. So you have to go the council’s main offices for an interview to fill out the form. Apparently this was because the schools weren’t completing the forms correctly. I don’t see why schools can’t be trained to do it right. Although the form is now ridiculous as half of it doesn’t need to be completed.
And Sandwell want me to provide 2 referees (although the form didn’t say how long the referees have to have known me). CRB no longer ask for this, but the council do. And they want my full employment history including all voluntary work! I can’t remember my employment and volunteering history for the last twenty plus years. The lady at the council then told me that the school can decide how much employment history is required and that the form had been approved by the council AND the unions. She said that it ought to say that referees should have known me at least two years, but that too was up to the school. Thankfully I think the school will be sensible.
Our head teacher is about to send a letter out to parents asking for folk to volunteer to read with the children – currently no-one is helping out at all. But if they have to fill in forms, provide referees and long term histories and travel a 4 mile round trip in order to do it, I don’t hold out much hope of floods of volunteers. Many families round here don’t have cars, so the trip to the council would take a whole morning.
I’m going to encourage people to volunteer, but I’m also going to see if the council will come down here for the interviews or let me help people fill out their forms first. Surely the council want to be encouraging volunteering rather than hindering it with bureaucracy?
The council lady I spoke to said that the new Independent Safeguarding Authority should streamline things ‘but they keep on putting it back’. In the meantime money is being wasted all round the country as people have to collect multiple forms and fill in extra paperwork to satisfy the total lack of trust that now characterises our society. I wonder what the record is for multiple CRB forms. Any advance on five?
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