I was reading one of those ads for a fairly senior vacancy in a local authority children’s service department. They were willing to pay nearly £110,000. That seems an awful lot to me for a third tier post but I suppose it might be worth it if they found someone who matched their Utopian specifications.
They said they were looking for “a new breed of individual” to deliver “real change” “in a dynamic, fast-changing borough”. They wanted “an inspirational leader”, a “collegiate player” a “problem solver”. They wanted someone with “exceptional interpersonal skills”.
Yuch!! I wonder how many senior children’s services managers across the nation are part of this new breed? How many deliver real change? How many are inspirational leaders? How many are problem solvers with exceptional personal skills?
I wonder how many are bureaucrats? How many pursue manageralism rather than management appropriate to a challenging professional service? How many just deliver the latest political fix? How many are out of their depth?
Let’s get away from these hollow sounding echoes of the naughties and stop pretending that working with children is a branch of financial services. The kind of people we want running children’s services are the kind of people who understand children and their needs, who know how to communicate with children and to build and deliver services that children will value.
That’s what I call a “new breed”.