The summer has been slightly overshadowed by the forthcoming public spending review. If the ideas on spending cuts that have been floated become reality, then these the shortfalls will hit most people in one or other of their pockets.
The fact that universal state benefits have been paid to people who do not need them is a ludicrous example of the last government’s largesse. Winter fuel allowance for people on six-figure salaries is pointless, as is a bus pass.
It would be too much to hope that this government could really grasp the nettle of cutting through the red tape involved in running government and turn its attention to adding value.
Government has never really bothered itself with developing value-adding skills. After all, the civil service is about administration, and as far as they are concerned, the more administration there is, the better.
So when the announcement came about the demise of the Audit Commission, I felt that there might be the chance for a change of culture. Local authorities are a good place to start as they operate in the areas that affect us most days, whether it be roads, refuse collection or parks. But the real challenge is the reform of central government.
Whilst one might criticise Michael Grove for the way he handled the end of BSF, the shambolic reporting of the changes to the programme was at least partly the fault of Partnership for Schools. Its ineffectiveness, together with the input of CABE and some educational psychobabble, resulted in a recipe for disaster.
Why every school had to be individually designed still defeats me. I cannot understand why we did not have standard templates which were known to be buildable and reliable.
I suppose it is down to egos. The ego of the designers, of governing bodies and even the head teachers all fed off each other in the classic emperor’s new clothes scenario.
I wonder how many people who worked on such projects thought to themselves it was madness but chose to keep their head down. After all, it is impudent to bite the hand that feeds.
The feeding hand has now changed. When the schools programme comes back, hopefully the focus for high-quality education will be on the quality of teachers and teaching with the building being a means to an end rather than the end in itself. Is that not what we mean by adding value?