Thursday, 18 September 2008

Anything that can go wrong.

Well I hadn't realised how long it's been since I posted. Where did the summer go?

My excuse is that I waited for most of the holidays for something to happen, only to be assaulted by a flurry of activity of a fraught nature at the beginning of September. Anyone involved in school support services will know how awful the beginning of the academic year can be. You can plan for the predictable, but you're just waiting for the unpredictable to happen. If you put major building works into the mix, then you have a noxious cocktail of possibilities.

Before I begin the list I want to say the builders continue to be great and just swoop in and sort things as quickly as they can even if it's not really to do with them. They must dread my name coming up on their mobiles. Without them dealing with things so efficiently and with astonishingly good humour, the start of term would have been doubly as bad, which is a very scary thought. The builders have decided that the site is indeed cursed - a conclusion Nick the Network Manager came to a couple of summers back. And just to compound Nick's always being right-ness, they have also discovered that anything you touch on a Friday just breaks.

In the first two weeks we had:

  • Electricity & network service missing in certain sections of the "old building".
  • Generator failure for unrelated reasons on three occasions, each of which left us without power or networks in the new block for around three hours. (including last Friday) You don't realise how much modern teaching relies on electricity until this happens. The teachers were having to be very creative. I suggested to the Economics teacher he should do the Winter of Discontent.
  • Problems with water supply resulting in no toilet facilities or drinking water for exactly the staff team you wouldn't want without drinking water or toilet facilities. (last Friday)
  • Major demolition on the site boundaries causing noise so loud the teachers couldn't be heard.
  • Problems in the temporary reprographics room because of the arrival of Autumn and the moisture that brings to a room full of paper with no electricity out of hours.
  • Ongoing issues with room allocations as a result of the decant. We've had to give up on a few solutions and take some drastic measures.
  • Very unpleasant difficulties with the drainage to the sixth form toilets. (last Friday)
  • Complete network failure totally unrelated to BSF and resulting in no network for a day and a half. Unfortunately this was at a completely separate time to the generator failure. At one stage it looked as if we'd have to have it repaired on a Friday afternoon, except the replacement switch got trapped in Amsterdam due to the fire in the Channel Tunnel.

Anyway, the good news is that things are far more settled now and no-one's shouted at me in the car park for a good few days. Always a good thing. As I've said before the staff are generally a laid back and cheerful bunch, so it just shows how tough a start of term it has been. Things are beginning to bite as we now have a full school and the onset of winter and moving into the new building still feels far away. It's a tribute to all concerned that the student guides at the Open Evening seemed completely relaxed about the whole thing, and prospective parents seemed far from put off by the building works.

Oh, and we still haven't reached financial close....

Anyway, I promise I will resume frequent and more positive posting activities now things are more settled. Sorry.