Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Leicester schools replacing caretakers with Group 4 Securicor

From the Leicester Mercury comes final confirmation that the world has gone mad:

A private security firm has taken over caretaker duties in four city secondary schools.

G4S, formerly known as Group 4 Securicor, is being paid to carry out jobs such as maintaining the building, looking after the grounds, ensuring safety and keeping schools secure.

School staff who notice a problem, such as damage in a classroom, now log the issue with a call centre.

It signals the end of the traditional school caretaker, who for decades was an important figure answerable to the head teacher and employed locally.

And don't take comfort in the fact that only four schools are affected. All Leicester secondary schools are expected to change to employing the security firm over the next few years.

If you want to understand the full absurdity of the scheme, listen to Stephen Trebble of the Leicester Miller Education Company, which builds and maintains schools in the city under the government's Building Schools for the Future Initiative:

“The schools now call a free phone number to log a problem and can track the response. We think it’s better because if, for example, a light bulb has blown, teachers can report it and get on with teaching.

“There will still be the opportunity, such as if a pupil has been sick or something has been spilt, when the clean-up work can be carried out urgently.

“But it will still be logged with the helpdesk just to make sure it has been dealt with.”

The security of Leicester schools at night will naturally be ensured by CCTV cameras monitored from Manchester.

Note how Labour's instinct to centralise everything, seen in Building Schools for the Future, combines with the Tory instinct to privatise everything that moves - even authority figures like school caretakers, who are just the sort of authority figures a thinking Conservative would want to preserve.

And note that they combine in a war, not only on common sense, but on the local community provision that Liberals instinctively favour.

I am reminded of the reaction of Guy Crouchback, hero of Evelyn Waugh's Men at Arms trilogy, on hearing of the Nazi-Soviet pact:

The enemy at last was plain in view, huge and hateful, all disguise cast off. It was the Modern Age in arms. Whatever the outcome there was a place for him in that battle.


Simon Titley said...

All school caretakers should, of course, look like Deryck Guyler's character Norman Potter in the sitcom 'Please Sir!'

I assume Group 4 Securicor doesn't employ anyone like that.

Jonathan Calder said...

He was a Desert Rat, you know. Oh yes.

David said...

Sword of Honour is my desert island book (OK, cheating, it's 3 books) and this quote is one of my favurites. Do you know where I could lay my hands on a thunderbox ?