Monday, 19 July 2010

Waste what waste? - a word in defence of consultants

The debate around the halting of the school capital programme has generated a lot of talk about waste. Waste in procurement time, waste in bureacracy, waste in time are all part of the media coverage of the investment in schools. In particular there's been a spotlight on the waste of money spent on consultants who supported the programme. These consultants appear as the devil incarnate 'milking' the taxpayer and diverting valuable money from children in classrooms.

But what's important to remember is that the consultancy firms were all procured through an open exercise under European legislation and that many of the people who worked for these firms were and remain deeply committed to making a difference for children and young people.
Yes the big firms made money on the contracts - that is what they're in it for - but for some of the consultants who worked for them, it was often the joy of working with schools to start to create a future that motivated them.

For these value driven people, who have sat alongside schools through the BSF process running workshops, consulting with children and young people, teachers and support staff, local communities it was the potential of the programme to create projects which would raise the aspirations of communities which for many years had suffered a lack of investment both physical and educational which was their driving force.

The rationale which inspired many to want to work in this area was the desperate need to break the cycle of disadvantage in our communities and to enable the next generation to have a sense of hope, a feeling that education and learning mattered, that, even if they wouldn't be in a new school, their friends, neighbours and even children would. For many it is this deep anger at the way such hope has been dashed that has caused such an outcry - it is not the so called waste of time, money or energy that we need to be incensed about - it is the waste of hope, inspiration and the sense that education can make the future different that will in the end be the ultimate waste of the next generation.

Saturday, 17 July 2010