Bremner, Bird and Fortune might have to find a new job; well, Bird and Fortune anyway. Those fictitious government interviews they do are threatened by the real thing. There we were naively thinking that the Home Office was in control of immigration and prisons, and it turns out they hadn’t a clue about either. Not even “the faintest idea”. Ho-Ho-Ho-Home Office. The same organisation which the private sector language schools are now being suckered into having to deal with. Via, of course, the British Council. Could it be worse?
Never mind my story on this blog of duplicity and denial going right to the top of the British Council, never mind that the organisation likes to talk of “clear goals” when the FAC and the Carter Review team can hardly begin to work out what the animal is, and setting aside for a moment the fact that the organisation gets the benefit of every public service wheeze going while being totally unaccountable, readers might like to consider what the organisation’s own employees have to say about it, and to look at this excerpt from the Repspeak site, published by and for British Council teaching staff.
Under the heading “Contradictions and Legal Black Holes: Welcome to the British Council” where they look at issues relating to the appeal by two teachers against dismissal, British Council staff report the following:
As you will recall, this case asks the UK Tribunal to rule that the British Council is answerable in a UK court to an unfair dismissal action brought by a network teacher, i.e. falls under UK law. The British Council (at least at this venue) is arguing that it is answerable only to local courts – i.e. under the law of the country where the teacher is employed.
Interestingly and tellingly, in one of the countries in question, it has argued in the local court that it is not answerable to local law.
Um, could you repeat that …….
It’s not a joke. The British Council is arguing it is not responsible in a UK court and is not responsible in a local court.
Bird and Fortune might not have seen that one coming either. Naturally the teachers are disturbed and I suspect, as I was, a little shocked. The difference between what the organisation is and what it claims to be is so marked.
What we British taxpayers might hope to expect is that the senior management of the British Council should begin to demonstrate that there is some substance behind their claims of building trust, valuing integrity, acting ethically and so on, and that rather than being allowed to mess about with special tax arrangements and diplomatic status while peeping about for self-serving money-making wheezes, and while dodging responsibility for – or denying or just covering up – conflicts of interest or questionable business practice, there needs to be a mechanism formally to hold them to account. This is surely something that the trustees of the organisation should see to as a matter of urgency.
That the organisation should continue to occupy this twilight world of privileged public financial support, of subsidised, inappropriate, anti-competitive commerce, of privileged status at home and abroad, and have that and more all combined with outrageous (international) evasion of accountability, is totally unacceptable. This is absolutely not a model which should be paraded around the world in our names, it is unBritish (proponents of “British values” please note) and it has no place in a democracy.
But if anything the beast seems to be getting closer. If the schemers have their way, the once proud association of private language schools that was ARELS may in future have to deal with the duplicitous and unaccountable in order to be licensed to trade by the dysfunctional and incompetent.
You can see the ostrich’s point of view.