From Hertfordshire to Tooting

This week (so far) has taken me from the town to the country, from a public school to the hearing impaired unit of an inner city comprehensive, from working to keep a boy with Aspergers Syndrome in school and out of the hands of pushers to trying to find a social worker for the twenty-year-old physically disabled, deaf-mute, French sign language using, single mother of a child of three from the Congo living in a tiny flat with her mother and sister (and child). From trying to get one more filing cabinet to writing a funding application and Section 139a assessment to get a 19 year old boy with profound and multiple learning disabilities to a specialist college. It keeps me busy.

I’m not sure under the new arrangements which of these tasks are the duties of the local authority that employs me, the schools the young people attend (or would like to) or even whether I will be employed to do this much longer. But if I weren’t, who would?

The government has completely disrupted my profession. It has replaced a potentially co-ordinated and better managed “Connexions Service” working through a network of community and school- and college-level services (a service capable of reform it should be stressed) with a completely wasteful hotchpotch of Departmental, school and council responsibilities and a “market-place” of box-ticking private companies happy to proclaim that customer is always right even when the customer is plainly wrong or stupid if the customer is paying.

Before the election David Cameron spoke of respecting professionals, setting them free from artificial targets and allowing them to form and lead mutuals. Fantastic. So far I’ve seen my fellow professionals being set free through redundancy to seek a different profession and at least one “education services” company cynically mutualising itself the better to win bids from Cameron’s government.

I think most professionals know that the efficient matching and placing of informed people within a dynamic modern economy is a strategic, national priority. They recognise that we need a strongly managed national careers service that offers people of all ages and abilities the challenge of professional, impartial, independent, face-to-face all-age careers guidance backed by a great website and call-centre not replaced by them. Any party that has the vision and intelligence to understand that and to invest in such a service might get my vote.

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