In Ankh-Morpork, Lord Devices discusses the future of Lyndale, leaks, consultation and golf with his minions

In Ankh-Morpork, Lord Devices discusses the future of Lyndale, leaks, consultation and golf with his minions

In Ankh-Morpork, Lord Devices discusses the future of Lyndale, leaks, consultation and golf with a minion


Charles Dance as Lord Vetinari in Terry Pratchett's Going Postal
Charles Dance as Lord Vetinari in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal

The following is a work of satire.

Deep in the heart of Ankh-Morpok, Lord Devices (who had become Lord a few months after the removal of Lord Fooks a few years before) was meeting with his employees.

“I’m afraid I have bad news your Lordship, the Guild of Lyndale Workers is not happy with your plans to put them out of work and there is outright rebellion among the people against you.”

Lord Devices frowned. He wasn’t used to his employees openly challenging him like this, but had been warned by his advisers in the past to be nice as it was exceedingly expensive not to, even though there were some days they would try the patience of a saint. His short reply was “but we consulted them first didn’t we?”

The minion, looking rather worried that his name would be added to the list of five hundred employees that were getting the chop thought very carefully about how to reply to such a question. “Yes we did, it was a marvellous consultation! We asked people’s opinions far and wide and received nearly a hundred replies.”

Lord Devices looked puzzled, “and we told them all we would be reading the consultation responses too before reaching a decision?”

The minion replied, “Oh yes, we did, albeit after someone gave them the impression we’d made our minds up already.”

Lord Devices frowned, “I thought it was up to me to decide!” starting to look decidedly cross and rather grumpy.

After first retreating a suitable distance the minion said, “Well, unfortunately a rather junior minion gave the public the impression you would just be rubber stamping our previous recommendations to close the school as per your previous decisions in this matter.”

Lord Devices’ voice got louder, “What? Who dared to do this? Who dared to challenge my authority to decide things?”

Careful consideration of what to say next prompted the following response, “Well as you know your Lord, nobody is ever personally accountable here and no names are ever given to the public, but if you wish we will investigate whether we should take disciplinary proceedings against this very junior employee. If anyone asks, we then have a convenient scapegoat.”

There was a pregnant pause followed by “None of your loyal minions would ever do such a thing.” said with a smile as the last sentence was said in an obvious attempt to curry favour in a decidedly difficult situation.

Lord Devices said, “Very well and is there anything else about this Lyndale matter I should know about?”

Thinking on his feet, the minion said, “Well as per ‘instructions’ we argued that the over ten thousand signatures on the petition didn’t comply with our policies and therefore that only a few hundred should be accepted. This led to us being referred to as ‘childish’ in the press by one of the parents.”

Lord Devices said, “Don’t worry about that, only half the city receives that newspaper and many of the people that do, can’t read thanks to our excellent education system. Is there anything else?”

The minion said, “Well, there have been leaks…”

Lord Devices starting to look furious replied, “Leaks! Who’s been leaking stuff?!” as his blood pressure rose to unsafe levels “Really, I thought we’d clamped down on leaks!!! Didn’t we threaten that blogger recently for printing leaks?”

The minion replied, “Well yes we did, but sadly we can’t keep a lid on the whole golf thing now.

The blogger in question seems to know some aspects of the law better than we do. He even took one of those Lib Dems politicians to court and won.”

Lord Devices started beaming at the mention of one of his enemies having to answer to a judge in a courtroom and losing, “You still haven’t mentioned what was leaked. What was it?”

Realising he shouldn’t lie or prevaricate the answer was, “Well there were hundreds and hundreds of documents. In fact so much our press department would go into meltdown and start asking for time off if the public started knowing about them all. One of them relating to Lyndale was that we were paying another school far more per a child than Lyndale which we deliberately failed to mention in our report to you. It’s a school that isn’t earmarked for closure, but is a special school. It makes our arguments about Lyndale being too expensive look a little hollow now.

The blogger also has a year’s worth of legal invoices containing many, many secrets we’d prefer to keep hidden and some very embarrassing invoices relating to an IT contractor.”

Lord Devices frowned and his voice grew a little louder, “and why did nobody try to stop him?”

The minion replied, “We did, we redacted and redacted and redacted! In fact we even we did it so much we had to order more black marker pens (our supplier is now offering us a bulk discount)! The trouble is he’s clever and figures out what has been blacked out. We assume he must be getting some sort of outside help but so far our spies have yet to report back on this.”

Lord Devices said, “So what you’re saying is if the public knew about these things, if the public knew how much we were spending on things we wish to keep a lid on, it would be harder to justify shutting Lyndale?”

The answer given was “Yes, but there is another matter too.”

Lord Devices said, “I hope this is good news.”

The minion said, “Well, we tried to distract the blogger with a report about Fernbank Farm.”

Lord Devices said, “Did this cunning ploy work?”

The reply was “Well he did start writing about Fernbank Farm instead but he’s branched out into satire and wrote about it as a Wild West tale and now people are laughing at us.”

Lord Devices was not amused. “So what you’re basically saying is this. The press have received a large amount of highly sensitive and embarrassing information (including the consultation responses).

Not only are people starting to laugh at us, but employees have started to act like politicians in outright insubordination at my elected authority!

You do realise that now I’m going to get the blame for what’s gone on now? There’s no way my merry band of politicians are going to agree to take the blame for all of this!! It isn’t our fault our instructions were carried out incompetently! We have to face the public in elections next year, you don’t! The Greens won in my ward this year, even my seat isn’t safe any more!”

The minion replied, “Well as usual we have a plan B which we’ve already started on. For the sake of our careers, we’re leaving this now up to you. Politicians come and go, but officers don’t.”

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Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: questions about banding, outdoor space and Stanley School (Part 3)

Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: questions about banding, outdoor space and Stanley School (Part 3)

Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: questions about banding, outdoor space and Stanley School (Part 3)


Continues from Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: David Armstrong explains why there’s a consultation and questions begin (Part 2)

Julia Hassall said, “I think the point I was just going to raise is that we’ll make sure that the high level notes, I think it’s a very valuable suggestion looking at grouping them for each meeting to get a sense of the themes, are made public when we go to Cabinet with our report. So those will inform in part along with other things, the recommendations that are made to Cabinet.”

A member of the audience described the consultation document as “not worth the paper it’s written on” and “utterly deceiving”. Phil Ward replied with “point taken” and asked for any other questions?

A different member of the audience asked whether they would look at the banding system and see whether it was adequate? Phil Ward replied, “No, there is an intention for the work around the children, not n relation to costing but it was in relation to in the event of Cabinet agreeing to close the school and it finally does so, then we had captured the up to date information that we retain on the children so that we could begin, on an individual family basis, because we’re not talking about groups of children looking for one place or another, I have to speak up on an individual basis just to ensure that discussions with parents and discussions around the receiving schools and so forth we just had to give the fullest information. That was the purpose of that.”

David Armstrong said, “Just on the banding system, the banding system where we have five bands because of the special schools budget. Clearly, it’s new so it’s only been in place for a short while and I mentioned the Schools Forum before. We had an issue before to review that, clearly we’ve got to make it run for this financial year.” He referred to the Schools Forum and how questions about the banding feed into the Schools Forum.

Someone in the audience said that even if the school was full, that this didn’t matter as what mattered was whether they were adequately funded because without that they couldn’t stay open. Phil Ward replied to that and Councillor Dave Mitchell referred to a petition to Council five years ago about Lyndale School and a presentation. He referred to bullet points from the agreed notice of motion and other issues presented at that time. He asked if that would be presented to Cabinet?

David Armstrong replied, “The Cabinet report will have to include the history of all the previous reports that have gone over the last couple of…”

Councillor Dave Mitchell asked, “Will that include the decisions made by Council which were fully supported by all parties?” David Armstrong answered, “No, it would just include references to previous reports.” Councillor Dave Mitchell replied, “I think that’s a very important issue, it should be actually highlighted. It was a notice of motion to Council and it was fully supported by the local authority at that time.” Julia Hassall said, “We did make very clear reference to that to my recollection at the call in.” Phil Ward thanked Councillor Dave Mitchell for his point.

Someone from the audience said they wanted to raise a point about outdoor space at the three schools (Lyndale, Elleray Park and Stanley). She said she thought it was where it’s going to fall down on the SEN [Improvement] Test. Lyndale School was described as “it’s an absolutely fabulous site, it’s got established gardens, it’s got established trees, we take children out into the garden, we take lessons in the garden, we take children at a lunchtime”. She said, “the idea of squashing people in is not conducive to a good education”. Phil Ward replied, “Thank you for that point.”

The next question was about Stanley School. David Armstrong replied, “The school’s brand new and what we learnt when the Lyndale School was built was looking at primary schools. We built them absolutely tight on the existing campus. We found that the schools became more popular and also you’re building something for fifty or sixty years. We’re building something for fifty or sixty years, so we’re building to a generous standard and the new style that was built to a generous standard.

The school, the school that we’re building had a capacity of ninety pupils. The new building is capable of taking a hundred and ten and the reason for that is that we’ll be building to the maximum standards in place, we’re building some spare capacity because we’re investing several million pounds for the next couple of years.”

The next question was if there were any children with profound and multiple learning disabilities at Stanley School? David Armstrong answered, “The school was built to take the full range of pmld [profound and multiple learning disabilities]. The same questioner asked, “Are there any there at the moment?” followed by asking that if you put four or five from Lyndale into the school surely it would fail the SEN [Improvement] test as Lyndale provided one to one care in a school that catered for their complex needs? Phil Ward replied, but people started talking over each other again.

Julia Hassall said that she’d talked about the children with profound and multiple learning disabilities not growing in size, but that there had been an increase in children with complex learning difficulties, the questioner referred to the numbers over the last five years. Julia Hassall replied, “In terms of how we meet the SEN Improvement Test we are confident that the staff at the Stanley School…” and then was then interrupted.

Continues at Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: questions about Stanley, Elleray, Foxfield, the educational psychologist (Part 4).

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