We are all human – we need to acknowledge our mistakes!

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from our local hospital – a nurse asking why we had not attended the planned appointment for Michael (name changed ) . I asked “What appointment?” …… as there had been none sent. I felt that I explained the situation very clearly.

Today a report arrived for Michael from the NHS… stating “the family were on holiday and unable to attend!” I stifled my initial response as I know it is a trigger of mine when professionals will not just hold up their hands and admit when there has been a mess-up. The report should have read, “We failed to invite Michael to his appointment today ….. so he was unable to attend.” The report will remain (forever) on Michael’s health record.

Since becoming a foster carer I have increasingly needed to stifle my instinct to battle to have similar inaccuracies put right. I now tell myself to conserve my energy for the young people and instead prioritise looking after my emotional health. I sadly accept that a huge % of the children’s workforce seem unwilling to state “I messed up, sorry.” Instead, as in this case, they “blag.”

Here they readily parked the responsibility for a “no show” at clinic with the patient. Sadly, you have to wonder why they are so keen to cover their own backs – I suspect it is because so many people work in a performance culture which is data driven and where there is a level of mistrust and even fear. I suspect they wouldn’t stop to consider that this was actually very disrespectful to me, Michael’s carer.

It was a strange coincidence that this letter, about the missed appointment, arrived on the day that Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education referring to the reversal of the downgrading of 40% of A level results by the Exam Regulator, stated, “I am sorry for the stress this has caused young people.”

The similar theme was that of a performance culture where we needed to be able to trust professionals to have integrity and to admit when they were not perfect.

Many feel that the Government handling of this has been a complete fiasco, legal action was threatened before they made what seemed to be a common sense decision to trust teachers and the teacher assessed grades. Young people, probably from poorer backgrounds were definitely subject to discrimination. Clearly the distress caused to young people this year is unforgivable – but perhaps we can hang onto some hope if this could herald the start of a cultural change.

Re-building trust in professionals needs to start at the very top, with a no blame approach being taken. Perhaps a global pandemic, where we have all really been in the dark as to the best approach to take, is the perfect time to say – we are where we are, we’re none of us perfect – but we are doing our best .  Let’s just be honest with one another and try to work a way through this difficult time.

The logical next step for Gavin Williamson having now acted on Teacher Assessments would be to offer an apology to teachers for questioning their integrity. There are definitely good and bad professionals in every field and the levels of scrutiny which now exist in all areas – as a result of a tiny % of humanity not being honest and upstanding is phenomenal. I suspect the Secretary of State wouldn’t stop to consider that his actions were very disrespectful (as well as distressing) to teachers as well as to the young people. We won’t hold our breath waiting for that apology!

TRUST of professionals and between professionals needs to be worked at. Relationships suffer (often irretrievably) when there is a lack of honesty by a tiny minority. As foster carers TRUST and HONESTY are the values that we truly respect.

Jayne Robbins – A Blogging Foster Carer.

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