Friday, 13 April 2018

More incompetent (unethical?) behaviour (false advertising) by Bournemouth and Poole College/Centre for Wessex Young Musicians

(Post made at 1409 UK BST time on 13 Apr 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).

The Bournemouth and Poole College are still advertising the Wessex Starter and Middle Strings courses on their website (see this page) as being conducted by my wife, 11 months after she stopped conducting these groups. (At their request, with no notice or thanks after 13 years, and without explanation until a week later when a pretext was given which was quickly shown to be spurious given accepted practice by other staff at the College).

See this screenshot, taken earlier today (you can click on any image in this post to see a larger version):

This is false and misleading advertising.

Is this simply incompetence, or is it deliberate, unethical advertising using a very popular teacher's name?


I heartily recommend the Secret Barrister's book "Stories of the Law and How It's Broken"

(Post made at 1406 UK BST time on 13 Apr 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).  


For anyone interested in UK law and in particular the parlous effect of successive cuts on our justice system, I can heartily recommend this book:

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken


Here is an excerpt from the chapter which exposes the increasing number of false complaints:

But there will be cases where there is simply no other approach than to firmly and clearly put to a witness: you are lying.  And to make them relive every second of the events they describe so that you can clinically and decisively shred every sentence they deliver, building to a closing speech where you publicly implore a jury to reject the complainant as a liar.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

In my opinion, the downplaying of the younger CWYM groups continues

(Post made at 1130 UK time on 06 Mar 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).

Further to "The younger groups have got the short straw in the CWYM Summer Concert on 1 July 2017", something which seems to be happening again in the 2018 Summer Concert, there seems at the time of writing to be no Facebook event, no poster, and indeed little mention (apart from in the list of concerts on the CWYM website) of the March concert (on 18 March, with no time stated) by the Wessex Fanfares and Wessex Starter and Middle Strings.



Furthermore, rather than having an external venue (as has happened for the last several years), the younger groups (which are the future of the WYO) are being relegated this year to playing at the Bournemouth and Poole College.  This seems a throwback to the situation about 10 years ago, when the feeder groups just had an informal concert at St Andrew's Hall at the old Constitution Hill site, with little room for an audience, and not much of a sense of occasion.

This seems a pity.  When I was chairperson of the SWYM Committee, it was always our aim to integrate the groups as far as possible, and to minimise any feeling of "them and us" as between the WYO and its feeder groups.

Something I hope I've never adopted as a management style!

(Post made at 1106 UK time on 06 Mar 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).


I found the above cartoon (amongst several on the theme of micromanagement) amusing. Managing a team is a challenge, with a balance between delegation and supervising, and I know I've not always got it right! 

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Bournemouth and Poole College: why do the concerns I raise matter?

(Post made at 1046 UK time on 27 Jan 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).

This is a follow up to a previous post, Why is this public?

Great music education is a partnership between classroom teachers, specialist teachers, professional performers and a host of other organisations, including those from the arts, charity and voluntary sectors.



The quote above is from page 3 of the government's "The Importance of Music", a National Plan for Music Education.

Reactions from some CWYM parents to the concerns I have raised have been along the lines of "fake news!", or "what does it matter if the rehearsals are secret?" "this is just admin, life's too short for that" or "stop criticising the Centre!".

My answers are:

  1. To the best of my knowledge, nothing in this blog is "fake news", and I have written evidence to back up everything I have said.  With regard to whether cooperation between CWYM and other musical organisations has been good, I have written statements from several witnesses (which I supplied to the College) that in their view cooperation had been unsatisfactory over a long period of time.  The email from CWYM to a school head of music refusing an advance request for help when one of six (!) extra rehearsals clashed with a weekday school concert  provides clear supporting evidence to back up what those witnesses told me.  Note that there has been no denial from the College that that email is genuine. Notice also that, even today, the CWYM website still instructs parents and children that the rehearsal schedules are secret (http://www.cwym-music.com/wyo-membership-guidelines.html still says "Members will be informed of a following season’s concert dates by email each summer, and then regularly throughout a season on the WYO schedules (for WYO members and families only) and by email").  This is 13 months after a senior member of staff at the College told me in writing that he/she expected the schedules to be published. 
  2. To the follow up questions, "so what if they are secret?" "so what if cooperation is poor?" my reply is: isn't that a rather selfish attitude? At a minimum, the likely absence of key players at key times seems to have caused significant stress to some other teachers/ensemble leaders, who have a difficult enough job as it is. Overall the impact on those other musical organisations seems to have been harmful, as indeed one might logically expect it to be.  In any case, the College claims to want to work harmoniously with other community organisations. Indeed as a publicly funded body and a charity doesn't it have a duty to do so? How does secrecy and a lack of cooperation comply with the importance of working in partnership referred to in the quote at the start of this post? In the absence of any valid counter to arguments such as these, if someone were still to say "so what?" then I think their views of right and wrong and mine differ enormously.  I believe most CWYM parents would agree that music teaching plays an important part in schools (see here for my thoughts on this).

Friday, 26 January 2018

I have no reason to believe that anything I have posted is untrue, but anyone who disagrees has the right of reply and should use it

(Post made at 1905 UK time on 26 Jan 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).

A reminder that anyone who disputes the accuracy of any of my statements in any of the blog posts is free to explain why/add corrections in the comments. (Please see the Terms of Use on this page. In the 13 months since creating this blog, I have not had occasion to remove any comments).

If any statement can be demonstrated to be untrue I will gladly correct it . Indeed I have a professional obligation to do so, just as I have a professional obligation to speak out as I have done about actions which I believe are unethical, improper or unlawful.

Resorting to legal threats or making complaints is over the top and unnecessary. If anyone has evidence that any of the statements I have made is incorrect, the normal (and simplest) remedy is to simply produce that evidence.  (Indeed, making threats without having any such evidence would be an abuse of process in my view, and unlikely to succeed, since I have taken great care that all my statements of fact are evidence-based.)



Sunday, 7 January 2018

Record of Wessex Youth Orchestra Leaders

(Post made at 1402 UK time on 07 Jan 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).


James di Capite (Leader) and Patrick Curlett (soloist and former Leader) in 2006

This is a record of the list of Wessex Youth Orchestra (WYO) leaders to the best of my knowledge.  Any corrections/omissions/additions gratefully received. (This is some of the content which I had added to the previous CWYM website which was closed down, along with the previous CWYM Facebook page, by sudden order of the Bournemouth and Poole College in December 2016. This content - part of the WYO's history - doesn't seem to appear anywhere now so I am reproducing it here).

2017-2018 Helena Bartlett
2016-2017 Helena Bartlett
2015-2016 Helena Bartlett
2014-2015 Helena Bartlett
2013-2014 Eszter Sitku
2012-2013 Nathalie Green-Buckley