On 1st of April the art staff met Chris Minter, Head of Services.
Like all professional bull*****rs, he gave tutors waffle that made him look like he really cared for a better future of the art department and vague managerial flannel about the future of other courses at Wellington Street.
Future of art courses
He talked a lot about how the art department needed updating to fit in with new legislation and council funded projects like “Cultural Strategy”. Staff are keen to follow this and update what they can offer, but it probably would have helped them if they were actually told about this in the first place. No-Clues Chris gave us a sneeky insight into how the art can fit into this whole Cultural Strategy thing:
Art tutor: How do you see the arts fitting in with those strategies?
Minter: that depends how well you fit with the cultural strategy.
Hmm… yeah, cheers for that.
Location of future art courses
As for future courses in the new academic year, tutors questioned if there would be further re-locations out of the Wellington Street building. Minter couldn’t answer, claiming “we haven’t looked at the curriculum”. All over the country education establishments are planning for the new academic year… except LAEC? Hiding behind this excuse just doesn’t wash.
Plans for the Wellington Street Building
Staff are still none the wiser about the future of the building, only being told by Chris Minter that:
“There will be major changes in the use of the building and this is just the start. They affect everybody.”
Rumour has it that by September the two hall spaces present will be used as conference rooms and that this function will get priority over classes. Therefore, if a course is set to run for a term in one of the halls they will be forever experiencing disruption by being relocated.
It doesn’t make sense!
Staff were left bewildered as to why they were kicked out of a beautiful art space for an agency who’s purpose is to sign retail workers up for the Shires shopping centre extension. This company had previously operated in a unit in the Shires. They could have functioned well, if not better, within the main retail area, rather than in a college known for adult education.
The reason Minter gave for choosing LAEC was “it had to be something close enough to the Shires but also close enough to the city centre”. This still doesn’t explain why a college situated not only on the other side of the city’s shopping area, but also at the edge of it, was the best possible location to attract retail workers who will be asking for jobs by going to, well, the Shires (?!)
Care and communication… or lack of
Minter listened to staff’s concerns about lack of consultation and communication and re-assured them that he was working to repair communication problems. He said that “there are some technical communication issues….that I’m facing across the whole service”. One of the issues being him. UCU describes their effort of consultation meetings as being “a bit of a chase” with Minter and finally succeeded in meeting “informally at a badly named, ‘Keeping in Touch’ meeting”.
Desperate to feel like the guy in charge had an ounce of consideration for the college users, the art tutors asked how he had evaluated the needs of them and their learners before he planned the relocation. After a pause, he informed the tutors: “I took into account all the things I had to do in order to make the decision”. “All the things” being finances, can he get the building work done, etc. Sorry, hard working staff and well paying learners, you do not come under “all the things” he needs to consider.
Are you up for the challenge?
Staff voiced concerns about how the arts was meant to grow and develop in line with his ideas when their facilities are being taken away making their department weak. The comforting and supportive answer they received was “it’s a big test; a challenge”!
On the subject of ‘challenges’ it’s worth bearing in mind that every course that has moved to Holy Cross has closed within the space of a year.
WHAT DO WE WANT?
Staff are not impressed by the meeting with the man who made this decision “entirely on his own”. With this sort of behaviour, no consultation, no care or respect shown for learners needs and opinions, we can only come to one conclusion: this man is using bullying tactics to get his way.
He has even scared staff off from going to the campaign public meeting by sending out and intimidating e-mail stating that:
“I will be attending the advertised public meeting but since there are many proper channels for staff to make their views heard….I do not approve or condone staff becoming involved in such campaigns that threaten ‘direct action.’”
For Minter: Chris Minter has no decent management skills and should not be Head of Adult Skills and Learning services.Staff, students and public cannot trust him. We are paying his wages with tax payers money, yet he is acting shady about his plans and is embarrassing the service. We want Minter out!
For Adult Education: Non vocational courses are under threat. Funding is being took away and re-directed to training for work. Many users of non-vocational courses are attending because they are unable to work, or as a recreation outside of work. These courses act as a vital life line to our communities. We want non-vocational courses to be supported and funded.