Goodbye FE

Harold Wilson

For the last two or three years I have been involved in the mainstream (Further -FE) education sector as a part-time Hospitality Assessor.

But no more.

I left the college that employed me last week and I have no desire to return to the sector as it continues to eat itself up from the inside.

I know that I must sound like an old curmudgeon, but I have spent a good part of my working life in FE, and loved every minute of it – until recently, when the learners/students/apprentices (call them what you like) started to be seen as monetary outcomes, rather than souls to be nurtured, taught and encouraged.

This was just one of the reasons I had for handing in my notice, there were many more, but all were based around the fact that middle managers are squeezed so tight that they really have no time to manage their team, their time or their learners’ academic outcomes.

For the last four months my charges, all level 2 food preparation apprentices, were seen as outcomes to be achieved by half term, when their funded time is up. Their practical (and often pastoral) needs were ignored: well, not ignored exactly, but no one cared whether they were being taught the skills they needed – just that they came into college and that that TICK was put on the register. The permanent staff treated apprentices like vermin.

With that sort of attitude, unchecked by a management more interested in securing and receiving funding I had to leave.

So, goodbye FE, thanks for all the fish.

BT Home Hub

BT are my broadband provider. There’s little point looking around for a new provider as they would have to use the BT line anyway and I know for sure that despite all the noise around ‘Infinity’ and super-fast broadband speeds, all that I can expect from my local exchange is around 4mb/s.

I’m happy enough with that, there’s no point wishing for something I can’t have.

screenshot of my broadband speed

I have a fairly old but serviceable BT Home Hub and (touch wood) have only ever experienced intermittent problems – the most recent of which was dealt with by making a short call to BT’s help desk in India. My hub allows any of my visitors (with the password) to connect. No worries.

However, that’s not the experience two of my friends have with their BT Home Hubs. These two hubs, one as old as mine and another one of the 3rd generation hubs, just do not work properly! A thousand calls to India will not (have not) make them work and they are just frustrating wastes of space.

Gill bought a new MacBook Pro last week. The Apple chaps made sure that everything worked for her before leaving the shop – so she was doubly disappointed when her new laptop wouldn’t pick up her BT Home Hub. Or rather, it did pick up the hub, it just WOULD NOT connect to it. Another (she made more than one) 40 minute call to India did eventually find a roundabout way of connecting but it’s hardly satisfactory and, as the weekend has shown, not very long lasting.

Gill’s old Windows laptop (XP) did connect to the hub but her husband’s Windows 7 laptop never could. Whenever Sharon and I visit, none of our ‘i’ or other devices EVER connected to Gill’s home hub. It has always been faulty but just try getting BT to understand that.

The MacBook Pro is working fine (it worked ok in the shop, it also detected and connected to my MiFi without a problem) and the Home Hub is receiving Internet from BT as the MacBook Pro connects easily when using the Ethernet cable – but it simply won’t connect to the Home Hub via WiFi (as AirPort is now called).

Karen’s third generation Hub simply won’t allow anyone except Karen to connect to it either, and from time to time it won’t even let her use it.

So what’s the answer? Who do my friends contact to tell their story, without going through the Indian merry-go-round again and again?

Why don’t BT recognise the signs that suggest the ‘caller’/paying customer has faulty apparatus?

How can they make their Internet Hubs more accessible for themselves and their visitors?