On Management (in particular cambian and Purbeck View).

Ineluctable, a lovely word that’s been doing the rounds in my chemo-addled brain. It means unable to be avoided or resisted, inescapable; which sort of fits with it’s behaviour in my bonce. I’ve pondered why I like the word, in particularly the sound of it and I think it’s because of the l. The letter L seems to lend words a sound and feeling like no other letter. It’s the letter you use your tongue most with in saying and this softens and caresses the L sound into being. Like lovely, a word I probably overuse, despite my love of words and frequent use of thesaurus for other words I have only once looked for a synonym of lovely. I will continue to use it, not only does it have 2 Ls it has the word love in it. Lovely. Or maybe it’s an illusion.

Unlike the odious philip green, sadly neither an illusion or lovely, whom MPs are now calling many unlovely names and descriptors. I’ll stick with klepto, where a hard K is emphasized with the lovely L to pour scorn on a deeply unpleasant person who owes a great debt to the poor BHS workers.

And so, ineluctably, I write of another klepto, one saleem asaria, cambian ceo, (the company who owns Purbeck View, the school I last taught in) might yet be seeing the folly of his acquisitive ways and is apparently looking to flog off the adult services in the group to cover it’s very significant losses in recent times.  “Given management’s tarnished track record to this point” is a quote from the ‘Morningstar’, a financial publication not the left wing paper, and reflects mr asaria’s management in particular. As I’ve mentioned before a consistent theme with mr asaria’s management style is his inability to keep senior people in the company. This is the case from board level, directorial underlings and senior managers at institutional level. Why only in the last year Purbeck View has had the head of care and assistant head of education both leave having barely started their posts.

Perhaps mr asaria is just another example of the Peter Principle; rising to the level of his incompetence.

Sadly, as with BHS, it’s the poor bloody workers at Purbeck View who bear the brunt. Their pay stagnates, effectively worsening with cost of living increases, conditions of employment worsen (the effective elimination of sick pay a few years ago one of many egregious examples), the effects of cutting costs all too evident in many areas, staff stress levels rise, top-down changes further alienate and disillusion the real wealth creators.

Purbeck View, is a residential school for young people with autism and co-morbid disorders (my favourite, if that’s not too morbid, is PDA or pathological demand avoidance, something that afflicted me at the school as I’d be expected to do another stupid load of bollocks asked of by management). So these young people are very vulnerable and so are the staff as many start work there with good intentions, wanting to make the lives of these young folk better. Sadly both are exploited as mr asaria and shareholders extract wealth that comes from public coffers.

I might dare to suggest that this is but another example of the increasingly obvious failure of neoliberal capitalism. It’s overseen by the kleptos-in-chief such as peter asaria and their orders are carried out by various managerial underlings. Reflectiveness, let alone any reflexivity, is not evident in managerial behaviour. I could list many examples, both personal and of others but I’ll just relate one personal story.

A number of years ago I received into my class a very violent boy who’d become too much of a strain in other classes. He was making good progress with us and his future tenure at the school increasingly assured. At the end of one term we packed everything away in preparation for new classrooms which would be erected and prepared over the holiday. Somewhat surprisingly the new classrooms weren’t ready for the beginning of the new term so we boxed and coxed and did the best we could to ameliorate the situation for students who find change very difficult at the best of times.

When my team and I surveyed the lovely not quite ready new classroom one of my assistants pointed out that the ‘break glass’ type fire alarms would be an immediate ‘target’ for the aforementioned student, he wouldn’t be able to resist setting them off. I spoke with senior management about this and was told it was ‘company policy’ to have this type of fire alarm and they couldn’t be changed. I protested. We wrote a letter outlining the probable consequences of having these fire alarms. We were ignored; no managerial reflection let alone empathy.

A week or so after coping with a temporary classroom we moved into the new classroom and sure enough within a short while the student had set off the fire alarm despite our various plans to try and avoid it happening. We and all the other classes had to follow evacuation procedures, senior managers on duty and maintenance folk had to do their bit. We returned to the classroom, and the student now in a very excitable state knowing what would happen did it again. We covered the fire alarm with lots of stuff he simply ripped off, we hid the alarm with a cupboard to be told that was against fire regulations and finally, for me, as I stood in front of the fire alarm being battered by the student I went to the head and verbally battered her. We then had key alarms fitted.

Sadly the damage had been done for this student, he couldn’t make it into the new classroom after what had happened. He moved to another school before the term was finished. And the start in our new classroom very far from propitious.

This is what happens in institutions run with a ‘top down’ model. It becomes increasingly reliant on structures, systems and similar created by people who don’t have to use or actually experience them. There is no worker involvement in the decision making process, they have, as the vernacular has it, no ‘ownership’.

I am glad I am now away from all of it, Kate has just said when I spoke to her about this blog that I’d have had a heart attack if I’d still been there. I still have many friends at the school and know that some, if they read this, will be annoyed. But I contend that a very particular form of British, maybe even English, management has evolved that is unhealthy and that if the managers could develop any sort of reflexivity (that is a bidirectional relationship) and actually include and involve the people they manage maybe things could be better.

Perhaps some might even reply to this blog and a discussion had, but I suspect they don’t have time for such frivolity with someone so obviously not in the ‘real world’. I’m off to have brunch in our lovely garden.


keep on keeping on, love Duncan.


One thought on “On Management (in particular cambian and Purbeck View).

  1. Yep, loved this story. I am sure it could be repeated a thousand times a day in each of a million crap organisations the world over. The arrogance / ignorance cocktail which is pure poison and often goes by the pseudonym ‘management’. There are even ‘management consultants’ would you believe. All those who call themselves managers or management consultants should be wiped off the face of the earth. Now you have got me going! I have had it in mind for some time to write a book about organisational pathology – the premise or observation being that almost all large(ish) organisations are not only terminally ill but also, in their interminable death throes, cause immeasurable damage to all with whom they come into contact. Just need a good title for it methinks. Something catchy. Maybe ‘They’re all Cunts out There!’ – borrowed from my dear friends Derek and Clive. What do we think?


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