Sunday, 11 March 2018

When your taxes get spent on adverts then you know something is wrong.

Image result for Boardroom
'We need a more aggresive YouTube presence - lets get rid of some TA's and hire a marketing assistant!'

Hello reader. I pay tax.

I don't really mind cos I'm not that handy with my fists so I'd probably get eaten in a total anarchy and also they pay my wages so it would be a bit contradictory to be against taxes cos I'd have no job cos it'd probably be only rich people that went to school beyond the age of 7 and I'd be working in the silicone chip mines instead or have a job tending the maggot farm at 'prole foods inc' or whatever dystopian alternate reality scorched earth disaster porn vision floats your salvaged boat.

I'm not that fussed about paying tax because I'm not planning to open an armed gated survivalist community and I can afford potatoes and even stuff like that posh ginger cordial in a glass bottle. Neither am I planning on living in a tree with free loving like minded souls living only off nutrients leached through the souls of my feet.

I do think, though, that it might be an idea to question what tax gets spent on sometimes because (and this is where the fun bit ends) I'm not sure that public spending and a free market style vision for the public services really works that well.

I see on a daily basis (using my eyes which then sends signals to my brain which I use to process and make sense of the images in front of me) evidence of the fact that there isn't enough money being spent on some things which should have money spent on them.

You can make your own list using your own eyes and brain to eye wiring - It shouldn't be that hard if you have access to a high street or any public services.

Anyway, to keep things on track, what surprises me is the fact nobody seems to be outraged at the fact that a big chunk of the money given to schools to spend on their stuff, like teaching and learning and going on trips and all that normal 'getting kids to know about stuff and be able to do things' gets spent on advertising.

Sit in a school boardroom. Listen to the endless conversation about 'market share' and consider the number of hours spent 'considering what the competition are offering,' the money spent on branding, the hours spent trying to convince potential pupils and parents that school A is better than school B, the sloganeering, the full colour glossy brochures, the photo shoots, the videos on websites, the time spent creating 'positive news stories' the search for 'our USP' and so on and so on.

Think about how with academisation and the impact of central funding cuts the razor's edge of the 'marketplace' gets even sharper.

Think about how we can't afford

- to properly resource SEN support
- to finance either decent workloads for teachers or pay them in line with interest rates
- to do anything especially innovative or unusual
- ten million other wider social things which inflict problems on education system.

Think about how it maybe cost effective for the individual school to compete but ultimately how the money spent on competing for students overall is a waste as no matter how well marketed and branded every school is you can't increase the overall consumption of the service offered. One school will win and another will lose. This is fucking schools we are dealing with. Not Shreddies or computer consoles. Schools forced to fight within a closed marketplace set up as an ideological experiment.

The total number of schoolkids is the total number of school kids. End. There are x numbers of school places and y number of kids. Overall. No amount of marketing can change that.

It's not like a can of coke where you can buy a variable amount of the commodity on offer. Parents aren't going to think 'wow, I like this school thing, I might send my kids again in the evening' or 'can I get a bigger size or a multipack?' - There is a woeful lack of deeper thought about this.

Even if the average marketing spend is only 2% per school (that figure is misleading as it represents only the direct costs, not the indirect costs of time - for example, the indirect cost of a head teacher drawing up a marketing plan, which is drawn from ideas generated by a head of department, drawn in turn from ideas from the staff body or the cost of x number of staff representing the school on a weekend open day and receiving time in lieu) - then we are wasting a massive chunk of public money on playing a nonsensical game of 'survival of the fittest' instead of considering what it could be spent on to benefit the learners and manage the duties of teachers so they can in turn, benefit the learners.

What is frightening is no one seems to really know what the 'norm' is in relation to marketing spend. It doesn't seem to be monitored and scrutinised in the same way that a 7 year old's mastery of reflexive pronouns are. It doesn't seem to be subject to the same kind of penny pinching meanness that school milk or free lunches are. It's apparently wasteful to give a child a meal or some calcium but perfectly fine to give an ad agency a brief for a pointless logo change. I couldn't find any government papers or analysis relating to the impact of marketisation or it's recent acceleration.

Think about everything we apparently can't afford in the UK and think about how we seemingly CAN afford to allow schools to compete over pupils with little or no thought given to it.

Think about whether you want your taxes spent on adverts or something else.

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