Mixed Bag

What a mixed bag of a day!

We had orientation for our new students today, and, when it was Jacqui and my turn to provide our part of orientation, we noticed only 39 students. That was okay; one student told us at interviews that she had previously booked a non-refundable trip to Australia and was going to miss the first few days of the course (which we okayed). But… when we read her name, with the obligatory, “That’s right; she’s not starting until…”, she raised her hand. She was there. So the empty seat was for…

The one student I was feeling ultimately uneasy about. Noel and she got into a disagreement at the interview. I had a run-in with her on the phone. And Jacqui, on one of her first days at work, got dressed-down by the little madam (and that’s the nicest word I can think of for her), to which I told Jacqui she wasn’t paid to be spoken like that, so, in true Jacqui fashion, she called her back and let her know (oh-so-ever politely as the more refined British do) she wasn’t going to be spoke to like that, thank you very much, and if she wanted to get anywhere in the course or the industry, the little madam needed to drop the attitude.

So, instead of letting us know when she decided not to do the course, she told us today after it had started (about 9:30 AM probably). I have never been excited to hear a student decided to withdraw until today. It put a good spin on the day!

On the negative yet oh-my-God-we-are-totally-gonna-win-this side of today, the government agency we have been having problems with today came back with their Canterbury manager’s verdict on our complaint: not their fault.

Yet, it so is.

For those of you who don’t know the story, we had to undergo an assessment to determine our “strategic relevance”. It’s a bureaucratic BS exercise — how can you determine how relevant a practical training organisation is on paper without going out into the industry and doing a bit of research? — Cullen and his gang dreamed up with to burden Private Training Establishments (PTEs) with so much more bureaucracy so they’d have so little time to teach they’d go out of business.

Alas, I digress.

We were somewhat confused — as, per usual, the guidelines as clear as muck and vague as vague can be — so we asked for advice against specific criteria on specific applications on specific courses. So… it was very specific information we gave.

And we received an answer. No, we didn’t need to complete sections 1, 2, 3 and 4, only 1 and 4.

Fast forward. A process taking only a few weeks overshoots its deadline by a few months: typical for this specific government department (digression: we are expected to meet our deadlines; they, for some reason, are not). We find out our applications were unsuccessful. Why? Oh, we were assessed against sections 1, 2, 3 and 4… even though they told us we’d only need to submit 1 and 4.

Unfortunately for the government body, we have the entire email conversation… in one email thread.

We decided to fight. If we gave a student a test on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and told them that the test was only on addition and subtraction, had them complete it, then mark the entire test (including multiplication and division parts, not completed, getting zeroes), you could bet your bottom dollar the same government department would be down on us like a ton of bricks.

Oh, but by today’s response… the rules, ethics and any sort of moral obligations don’t apply to them.

So I read their response (paraphrased) to Jacqui. I read it to Noel. And you know what both of them said?

They so know you have them by the balls.

The Canterbury manager even had the audacity — and she and I have never seen eye-to-eye but hey, I proved I have years more experience than her in tertiary education and, let’s face it, it’s not hard to prove them wrong or get them in a quandary about the airy-fairy, very vague ideas they try to implement — to imply our complaint was to “circumvent” the process. Sorry, love. Not true. Kinda implying we want a fair chance. Is that so much to ask for?

So I was mad — that shaking mad you get where your hands are shaking and you are spacey but so ready to throttle someone — until I kept hearing Jacqui and Noel’s words in my head: they know you so have them by the balls. It’s true. So I was a bitch. And pushed back.

So… I end today, scanning photos (still working at 7:30 PM at night. 3 of us at work in our department and we are still flat out), on a deeply satisfied note.

What a great bunch of students we seem to have this year.

Ding dong, the witch-with-a-b has gone.

They know we have them by the balls.

What a mixed bag of a day!

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