Happy New Year to all the diligent interpreting robots out there accessing T9000 via their cranial hypernet implants. I hope you are all managing to “adhere strictly” to the rules (they are sticky, which helps with the adhering) and are continuously “raising standards” in a small way every day. If you ever feel like this is a futile task, don’t worry: in the alternative future dystopia that T9000 originates from, the world energy crisis has been solved by hooking up a generator to a perpetual motion machine made entirely from crystallised standards.
December 2014 saw some anniversaries (and dieversaries) but I wasn’t able to blog about them in a timely manner because I was hiding under my duvet. Firstly, this blog has now been running for a whole year and I’m very grateful for the kind words that some carbon-based units have offered about it. This next year will be the Year of Many Hats – I may have left the interpreting register, but I’m excited about starting some paid research assistant work on the BSL Corpus and BSL Signbank, and blog posts may be less frequent for a while as I also have about 16,000 carefully chosen words to write between now and June, or roughly two words for every pound sterling I will have wasted if I don’t. I’m also going to be
teaching facilitating delivering the new BSL423 Introduction to Interpreting module, which is deliciously ironic and will require new milestones in cognitive dissonance on my part. My CSW work also continues. But obviously, regardless of voluntary register status and the job title on my payslip, I’m still an interpreter. Like it or lump it.
Early December also saw the 100th day of the Local Offer (see my background to Day One). T9000 missed it, but hey, base 10 isn’t particularly special or useful. So let’s celebrate day 128, which is a lovely round number in base 2. Much like my new lack of interpreting “status”, the world did not end when the Local Offer mothership descended: things just muddle on and the sea change is slow. Any emerging differences in the world of secondary and FE education the Local Offer might be causing are hard to distinguish from the general background noise of educational reform and wider policies of “austerity”. So let’s just rattle off a few observations that we can revisit on day 256.
NRCPD are apparently thinking about maybe carrying out a feasibility study to maybe see if National Occupational Standards could be developed for CSWs, maybe. I have to ask the same questions that interpreters are asking: what is the point of occupational standards, especially if you don’t have stable working conditions? My CSW work can be as measured, standardised and tick-boxy as you like, but if I’m on a zero-hour contract and have absolutely no obligation to show up for work next week (and my employer has absolutely no obligation to provide me with work) then what actual good will a NOS do? Similarly, Wales is apparently trialling CSW apprenticeships – nice idea in theory, but can you really have an apprenticeship for an occupation that has almost no contracted posts left?
The unreachable standard
It’s still being mooted by some that CSWs should have some kind of “register”, either with NRCPD or an alternative. Of course, to meet the criteria for registration, you need to briefly match velocities with the ever-shifting standards by nailing some very specific qualifications. So let’s count off the current national opportunities to qualify as a CSW and, while we’re at it, a note-taker (source: Signature).
|Number of centres in England & Wales providing the full eight units of the Signature L3 CSW qualification||1|
|Number of centres providing the Signature electronic note-taking qualification||0|
|Number of centres providing the Signature manual note-taking qualification||0|
NRCPD haven’t officially released any registration statistics since I made a lot of pretty graphs about them eight months ago, but we know that only about 9% of registrants are non-interpreters despite the costs and time involved to train being an order of magnitude smaller, and this table might help to explain why. Whether the near-total extinction of support qualifications is due to austerity in Further Education, or the extremely high course fees to low-earning zero-hour contract staff or their employers, or the question of whether you really genuinely need a qualification for these vocations, or if it’s just a “build it and they will come” mentality at Signature, is an exercise I leave to others.
An inspector calls
NDCS has called for Ofsted inspections of deaf services. While I have all the time in the world for the great work of NDCS, this seems like a slightly odd request to me, because I’ve already actively participated in two inspections this academic year and have been told to expect more next week. Perhaps my work and the institutions I work in are not representative. But it also calls to mind general questions about managerialism, performativity and the “creative” results of an ultimatum to measure the unmeasurable. It seems strange that education campaigners would be so at odds with the general feeling in teaching.
I haven’t forgotten about my series on nonsense, but it’s proving hard to write (and read), so it must be on track.