Cat herders required!
As a DCS from Greater Manchester, I find that whenever I talk to someone from outside the area it doesn’t take long before they raise the issue of devolution, or Devo Manc as we call it.
You will have heard the headlines – the chance to manage things at a local level with less interference from the Department for Education or Ofsted, long term budgets so we can plan ahead to best meet needs now and in the future, the chance to work closely together to achieve economies of scale and promote better outcomes for the most vulnerable. Indeed it is a fantastic opportunity for us. But it does require a relaxation of national constraints in order to flourish.
However, life is not as straightforward as that, is it? We are still facing huge cuts to our budgets as most of us are heavily grant dependent. We are still facing the prospect of Ofsted arriving at any minute (even though they too will be busy considering how to make savings of their own). Our day jobs are full of challenging social care cases and Headteachers who need to be defused before they explode…
Then there is co-operation itself. We are all in favour of it as a matter of principle. We are all keen to work together, in theory, but sometimes actually doing it is hard. We are all very keen to do it the right way, which is our way, and struggle to see why everyone else can’t immediately see the wisdom of our perspectives. But giving up territory and control isn’t easy and getting agreement is a difficult task.
So we are trying and we will continue to do so but its hard work. I suppose one obvious example of this is that we have had a single pension scheme for nearly 42 years now but we all have our own payroll system.
So if anyone knows a good cat herder, please send them in our direction!