Friday, 30 April 2010

Too busy to wargame … I wonder why?

I noticed this morning that I have only managed to write eighteen blog entries this month, and this made me realise how little wargaming I have actually done. I have thought about it, read and bought books about it, and have even had a very short play-test battle … but the reality is that I have actually done very little wargaming as such.

Why?

Well one reason is that my wife and I went on a cruise, but this only accounted for one of the past four weeks. The main reason is, however, that dreaded four-letter word … WORK!

The decision by the local authority to mount its own inspection of the Sixth Form where I work meant that I had to spend quite a lot of time during my recent Easter holiday preparing lessons, materials, and data that they might want to see. Needless to say, that did not want to see any of it! On top of that, the senior management have arranged for all of the staff – except themselves – to undertake two hours of ‘professional development’ per week (i.e. lectures and practical sessions designed to improve our teaching methodology) in addition to our normal workload. They have made it very clear that these extra hours are not an optional extra; they are compulsory and unpaid. Finally all this has coincided with the annual NSS (National Student Sampling) exercise for BTEC courses.

N.B. For those of my readers who do not know what a BTEC course is, it is course that is vocationally orientated. It has no final examination but has continuous – and rigorous – assessments. I teach Business Level 1 [the lowest level you can get; it is aimed at students who have few or no previous qualifications], Travel and Tourism Level 2 [the equivalent of qualifications most pupils get at the end of Year 11], and Travel and Tourism Level 3 [equivalent to degree-entry qualifications]).

The NSS is a sample of assessed work done by students, and the process is intended to ensure that the quality of the assessments taking place nationally is of the required standard. The problem is that the process of collecting the assessed work and preparing it for the NSS is both very time consuming and very bureaucratic. The lecturer who set the assessment and who assessed the work has to pass it to another lecturer – the Internal Verifier – who then checks that both are of the required standard. Any changes have to be noted and acted upon, or an action plan has to be put in place to achieve the required changes. This is all then checked by the person who has been nominated to be in charge of Quality Assurance. Once all this has been done, the paperwork – which by now is the size of a small mountain – is checked at least twice more before it is sent to the External Verifier, who then checks it all again and decides whether or not it matches the National Standard. Hopefully it does, because if it does not the whole sampling process has to be done again, but with the required changes stipulated by the External Verifier.

Simple, isn’t it!

Thinking about it, I now wonder how I had any time to do anything other than work. Hopefully next month will be a bit less intense … but I doubt it as we are scheduled to undergo another inspection sometime during May.

As the Chinese proverb says ‘May you live in interesting times’; I just wish that I didn’t!

8 comments:

  1. Don't you just love administrators? There are some good ones of course -- my current dean is one who actually makes the work environment better for all of us faculty -- but so many others just generate more work for nothing (like yours expecting you to prep things they *might* want to see). I really sympathize -- hope you get to game some more once all that is finally over!

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  2. Chris,

    One of the problems is that the Principal and two Vice Pricipals have forgotten what it is like to teach because they have been out of the classroom for so long or that they are not the only person asking you to do something extra (one extra job from each is, after all, three extra jobs to be done!).

    This weekend is the May Bank Holiday weekend, and I hope to be able to fight at least one battle over the three days. I say hope rather than plan because you never know what is going to happen to stop you doing what you want to do.

    'No plan survives first contact with the enemy.'

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. When you do get a good boss who takes the load off you rather than piling it onto you, boy do you see the difference! If your Dean is like that you are very lucky!

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  3. Bob - given that I've only managed 21 posts for the year to date (and that represents a 75% increase on the whole of 2009) I don't think you need lose any sleep over your productivity!
    As to the powers that be at work, I always take every opportunity to remind managers that they work for me, not the other way round.

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  4. My gawd--and here I thought OUR bureaucratic mess was beyond compare! I guess the U.S. is Great Britain Junior in more ways than one.

    My sincere condolences.

    Chris

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  5. Tim,

    I think that quality does not depend upon quantity, and your blog is always quality!

    I wish the managers realised that education establishments exist to educate young people, not to provide employments for managers!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Chris J,

    We in the UK are mere amateurs when it comes to bureaucracy; the European Union leads the way when it comes to the collection of meaningless data and the completion of meaningless forms.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Bob, I thought I was doing good to post 9 blogs this last month, and here you are complaining you are working too much and not doing enough wargaming. Shame on you I say. Shame that you don't realise how lucky you are. ;-)

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  8. Paint it Pink,

    All things are relative, I suppose.

    I retired from full-time teaching in 2001 ... but feel a bit of a fraud to call myself a pensioner as I am not yet old enough to get my Old Age Pension; hence my drive to carry on working part-time.

    As Tom Mouat always says 'If you want a job done, give it to a busy man'.

    I suppose that I am that man!

    All the best,

    Bob

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