Way back in February, there was a short piece in the Bury Times:
THE FUTURE of school holiday clubs and five youth centres in Bury is in doubt because of council cost-cutting.
Forty-eight jobs could be axed as part of proposals to shut Bury Youth Service – a move that has sparked a mass revolt from staff, bosses and politicians.
Despite the backlash, council bosses would only say there is a proposal to take £300,000 from the youth service’s £1.5 million budget and no decision would be made until March.
Today, The Sun newspaper had a story which illustrates how wisely the forty-eight ‘revolting’ staff of Bury Youth Services are using the 1.5 million of taxpayer’s cash that they cannot bear to be parted from.
Although Ben Ashford’s story was nominally headed ‘He’ll go far’ the real clue was in the meta tag……’council crackpots award lad of 15 a certificate for catching the bus’. It appeared that the council had indeed awarded an AQA certificate to this young man for managing to catch the bus.
The story goes a lot deeper than that, though, for talking to Simon Buck at AQA it seems that this particular certificate is part of a series, including the lampooned ‘how to make a cold drink’ certificate, that is intended to recognise achievement from individuals for whom actually catching a bus alone, or managing to make themselves a drink can be a real achievement – in other words, special needs groups.
So, was Ben Ashford making fun of a young man with special needs who had indeed managed a bus journey by himself? It would appear not, for later in the article the young man tells us that he thought he had got his GCSE results early.
Perhaps this young man came under one of the other categories AQA suggested to me – young people coming from youth offending institutions? I cannot answer that one, other than to say it would have been wiser not to plaster his photograph over the Sun if that were the case – and it still doesn’t explain why he should have been entered for an award that was quite obviously intended for someone of lesser ability.
The Department for Children, Education and Families, Ed Balls’ fiefdom, is responsible for funding the 1000 odd centres that run courses for those pupils with special needs – but they were adamant that this certificate was not their responsibility. Quote:
This sort of thing is funded direct to the local council for holiday courses, its nothing to do with us what they do with the money.
Mnnn, but I’m a taxpayer, I want to know why someone is paying AQA to issue certificates that are so obviously a joke that The Sun is running a feature story on it.
I tried Bury Council – they were aware of the story, but their press officer appears to have gone to ground for the day, and I’m still waiting for a response from the ‘temporary stand-in’ who was struggling to think who might be repsonible for spending tax payers money in this way.
I tried Bury Youth Services, in fact I tried every single number available for Bury Youth Services, they have also gone to ground. I was going to ask them whether the 300 youngsters that they issued these certificates to as part of the £20,000 ‘holiday scheme’ had been aware that they were being entered for ‘qualifications’ intended for special needs groups. Other certificates were handed out for using a cafe, undressing and dressing, washing hands and making a cold drink.
But they don’t want to talk to me.
I shall be watching and waiting next time they poke their heads up complaining that they are an indispensable service that cannot be deprived of tax payers cash……. we have a tax paying Raccoonteur sitting right on their door-step……..