Thursday, 21 March 2013

Cannington College

Cannington College, or the Somerset College of Agriculture and Horticulture as it was sometimes called, was a million miles away from being a typical further education college.

The dominant union within FE was, and still is, NATFHE.  At Cannington College lecturers had to look to the totally hopeless Association of Agricultural Education Staff (AAES) for support rather than NATFHE. The AAES Branch Chairman was an odious little horticultural lecturer who seemed to be politically well to the right of most rational human beings.  He had zero interest in the views of people outside his small clique – loftily dismissing the rest of us of living in “cynics corner”.
My finest hour at Cannington was when I stood against him in the election for staff representative on the governing body.  I received over 65% of the votes, and he came third - out of 3. But even then, despite the fact that AAES membership then tumbled and NATFHE membership soared, AAES were regarded by the bosses as the "voice of the staff".

My third finest hour was closely linked to the first.  Norman Dickie, of whom more later, was grumbling, in the context of performance management, that I didn’t have a high enough profile on the staff. I mentioned the election result and he hastily changed the subject.
Number 2 on my all-time list centered around the strangest job interview I ever had.  There was going to be a promoted post within the department.  There were 2 internal candidates but curiously one Norman Dickie, stout yeoman of the parish, neglected to tell one of the candidates, that would be me, that the interviews were taking place the next day.  I ended up with about 3 minutes warning so unsurprisingly I didn’t get the job.  Subsequently dropping Norman into the mire almost made missing out on the job worthwhile!

It was about now that I realised that it was time for me to move on. I did some work for the Somerset Information Technology Unit (SITU) and this gave me the confidence and the experience to apply for a promoted post at a mainstream further education college in Northamptonshire.

I got the job and the next day I submitted my letter of resignation to a rather shocked Principal. It seems as most people had assumed that I wouldn't get offered the job - and most of the rest thought that I would not take it even if I had been offered it. It was fun to prove them wrong.

I never taught Food Technology again!

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