NRCPD have this week announced that they have become a “separate and independent” company and registered charity which is also a “subsidiary of Signature”. We are told that this paradox is a step along a “transition” towards “full independence”; nonetheless, the adjective “independent” appears five times. The entity was born on 1 January 2017; NRCPD’s director attended a local workshop on 2 February and updated them on this new status, a full week before registrants themselves or the outside world were informed, nearly six weeks after the fact. The Strategic Plan was also revealed, in all its vague and unsubstantiated glory. Elsewhere, in an advert for an Honorary Treasurer, we can confirm that the new NRCPD is a “wholly owned subsidiary” of Signature (the trading name for CACDP, the actual legal entity: as we’re discussing legal entities, I’ll only use CACDP hereon). So what does “separate and independent” mean, exactly?
First, a quick English lesson. The word “independent” is what we call an absolute modifier. A better known example is “unique”. You can’t be a bit unique, quite unique, more unique: you are either the one and only or not. Similarly, describing something as “very perfect” would be marked or unusual. With the concept of “independence”, you are either dependent on a non-zero number of things, or you are independent, with zero dependencies. The prefix in- in this context has privative force, marking the absence or negation of a property, in this case, “dependency”. People do say things like “very unique” and “fully independent” every day, but that is because most people are lovely, squishy, carefree things that do not always think very hard about what they are saying. Many of them are not self-proclaimed leaders of excellence in linguistic and cultural mediation, and in those cases that kind of language use is often completely fine and rarely seems like a blatant misrepresentation of any sort.
Now we’ve established that, exactly how “separate and independent” is the new NRCPD, on an integer scale of 0 to 1? Take a wild stab in the dark. I picked up all of the following from NRCPD’s Companies House entry – their new registration is 10510695 by the way – and from CACDP’s main website.
- Nu-NRCPD’s registered Secretary is Lindsay Foster, the Chief Operating Officer at CACDP.
- The registered Directors of the new NRCPD company, Philida Schellekens and Ian Walton, are both on the Board of Trustees of CACDP and they are also both registered Directors of CACDP: Dr Schellekens is listed as a “consultant” – she was, incidentally, the author of the National Occupational Standards for Interpreting at the original CILT project – and Mr Walton is CACDP’s Treasurer.
- In the newsletter, Liz Duncan is described for the very first time as NRCPD’s Chair, a piece of information we’ve been waiting for since the recruitment process in September 2016 following the sudden and unexplained resignation of the former Chair last summer. Inevitably, Ms Duncan is also on the Board of Trustees at CACDP.
- NRCPD is now both a registered charity and company limited by guarantee (not shares). The guarantor is CACDP, for the sum of £1.
- CACDP is listed in NRCPD’s Certificate of Incorporation as the only Registered Legal Entity (human or corporation) that has “the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over the company”. I’m sorry to be boorish but I’m literally going to type that out all over again: CACDP has the right to exercise and/or actually exercises significant influence or control over NRCPD.
I suppose it’s fittingly 2017-y: “alternative independence”. I’ve written to the person covering the registration manager’s post at NRCPD (who I’m almost certain is a CACDP employee) asking for clarification about the quantum nature of this “independent” arrangement of being a “wholly owned subsidiary” of another company which has “the right to exercise significant influence or control” and whose Directors, Secretary and Chair all hold other key roles at that same company, but I don’t expect to be honoured with a response. I’ve clearly not so much burned that bridge as tactically nuked it from orbit. If I do get a reply, I’ll update this post.
It’s finally half term. I’m utterly exhausted after seven weeks of trying to do a difficult job with little support in a world where manufacturing evidence has become the norm, so I just don’t have any reserves to burn on this sham. And really, there’s almost nothing useful to say. The main problem for me is that none of this would necessarily be a problem if it were only honest. Why bother describing any of this incest as “independence”? For whose benefit is the spin, why not just say that it is what it is? If it is only a transition, why not say what to? Who are we trying to convince, like the Wizard of Oz, that NRCPD is a mighty institution, when anyone with a pittance of Google skills can quickly establish that it’s more like 1.5 FTE employees in a shed on the outskirts of Durham, perhaps intermittently supported by a loose network of volunteers with varying levels of vested interest, and still jerking on the end of strings held by a minor language exams board? Where is the integrity, the transparency that we’ve been promised over and over for the last five years? Where is the commitment to research, evidence, innovation, networks of support, communities of practice? Where is the trust? If you want people to be professional, why not treat them as such?
I so badly wanted this to be the beginning of change, of a new and happier chapter for a broken profession. This is a poor start: just more of the same.