SAAS – response

Well, after waiting almost three months and giving up on phoning them, I emailed again yesterday and – amazingly – received a response this morning. I guess they’ve actually hired some staff or something.

The bulk of the mail is as follows:

I can confirm that as you had stated that you had lived in England before coming so Scotland we had to ascertain how long you  had been in Scotland and that it was not just for educational purposes.  I can also confirm that we received your residency form on 2 November 2009.    I have now calculated your award and you will receive an award notice in the next 7 days.

But it still doesn’t explain why I’ve waited since September 9th to receive any feedback. The “residency form” at no point explicitly asked me when I was living in Scotland. Had they wanted evidence of that, I could have provided it. It was wholly geared at when I entered the UK – not Scotland. A such, it was a pointless letter to send me.

Really, though. Seven weeks to send out a useless form and four more to respond to it by the time the award notice arrives – after a complaint.

I’m really glad this is a one-year course and I won’t have to deal with them again. If I do opt to do a Primary PGDE then it will be self-funded so this hassle won’t be an issue.

SAAS – again

SAAS are still defying belief as one of the most inept government departments I have ever dealt with. And that’s facing some stiff competition.

Following on from the last letter I received and responded to, I have waited a month and heard nothing. I called them (or tried to – see earlier posts) with no luck. I just tried again using the “real” phone number I got from Say No To 0870 (0131 476 8212) and was stuck with an automated system.

It politely took my reference number and said they had received my application and to check again in two weeks. What’s the betting this is the same message I would have been given 3 months ago?

So I thought I’d check on my student loan. Only the nice electronic voice informed me that I’d have to enquire directly with the student loans company which I can’t do as I’ve not got an account with them yet because SAAS are sat around with their thumbs up their backsides flossing their teeth with my application.

I then navigated around to speak to a representative. And the nice machine told me the office was closed. A surprise as it’s not a public holiday in Edinburgh and time I called was right in the middle of the working day as advertised on their website.

I’ve sent them another email via the website, this time a complaint rather than a query. They say they get back to these within 10 days. Mind you, they say they get back to queries within 15 and I’ve never had a response yet.

SAAS – you’re workshy, lazy and liars.

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SAAS still suck – but call them for free/cheap

A landline telephone
How SAAS make the money to pay your course fees

For those who’ve tried to call SAAS recently, I’m guessing you likely had a nightmare getting through to them on the phone. I tried last week, and it took me about 20 attempts not to get a busy tone. I was then placed on hold for 35 minutes until I gave up in disgust.

Pamela responded to one of my earlier posts and tells me she’s racked up £200 in phone calls trying to sort out her matter with them. Will someone kindly explain to me why a government office dealing with people who are stereotypically amongst some of the poorest in the country can be allowed to only publish an 0845 contact number? One that – as far as I’m aware – isn’t included in any mobile contract’s free minutes? Indeed, in BT’s landline contract either.

Calling this number generates revenue for the people at the other end so it’s in their best interests to keep you on hold. If they picked up quickly and dealt with matters swiftly then it would only be a minor inconvenience, but they don’t. First of all you stay on hold for an age, then if anyone ever speaks to you they only take your details before referring them up to some ape in a suit who’ll shove them on a pile while he sits there wondering if his banana tastes better before or after he’s shoved it up his bum.

Then 8 months later finally send you out a letter completely unrelated to your query.

At least I can help you call them for less, though I can’t guarantee they’ll bother answering your query or – heaven forbid – actually send you any money. Courtesy of the rather excellent Say No To 0870 website, I can inform you that the landline number to call is:

0131 476 8212

This is the general main number alternative. There isn’t one listed for the specific departments they have on their website, but the menu system is apparently the same as the main one. In other words you get through to the exact same place as if you’d rung the rip-off 0845 number.

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Do as I say…

Don’t you love how we tell kids to do things (or not do them) and then undermine the whole concept with our own actions and decision?

Over the last week I’ve gone over the concept of Internet Safety with three classes.  A key concept in the lessons is “Don’t give out your personal details to anyone”. That is, don’t go publishing your name, address, school and photo on your Bebo page then opening it up to the world.

That’s sensible enough.

I was talking to another teacher (I say “another” as if I’m qualified… roll on summer 2011!) who had the following thrust at him as a question:

“Well, sir, in that case what happens if I lose my school bus pass? It’s got my name, photo and address on it and it’s got the school name printed across the top.”

Of course, he thought this was silly. There’s no way it would have all of those details on.

Actually. Yes. Yes, it does. He looked and was struck dumb. The obvious answer is “well, don’t lose your bus pass” but these things happen. They go walkies, they get dropped, they get stolen along with the bag they’re inside.

And then someone has their hands on this young girl’s school and home addresses.

Does anyone else think this is madness? It’s a school bus pass for a bus that runs from a locale to the school direct, not a public bus. As long as the pupil has a pass, their address is immaterial. It needs a photo to show that the carrier is the one entitled to the bus trip. That, I accept. Even having the name on isn’t the end of the world. The name of the school makes a bit of sense, but why would they be on the wrong bus? If they were colour-coded or had some other identifying feature even that wouldn’t be necessary.

But home address? If the pass is lost, the student applies for another. If it’s got the school name on it then the finder can return it there – the school would be able to find the pupil.

So while we’re telling them not to publish their details somewhere public, the school is handing them a piece of card that they have every chance of dropping with just that information on. Not as bad as shoving a poster up, but depending on who finds it every bit as worrying.

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The stress!

No real updates right now as I’m utterly buried in work. Back at school and, though I’m still enjoying it, it’s really hitting home how much effort this course is.

By mid-December I have a total of 11 smallish essays and 20 lesson plans to be ready for perusal. I must have one crit (assessed lesson) and over the xmas break I need to do a much larger essay due in just after new year.

In addition I’ve volunteered to help out with the school website which needs a facelift, and have to sit in on – and teach – quite a few lessons.

As the term’s gone on, other things are noticeable as well. Such as the behaviour of some children getting worse. I suppose it’s to be expected as boredom sets in, but it’s freaking even me out! I know I’ll sound like a complete old git (which is fair – I am one) but watching one lad yesterday totally failing to grasp the concept of “under your breath” while swearing at the teacher beggared belief. Of course, he had nothing to lose as he was being handed a detention anyway. Cue two slammed doors and much sulking.

Now I’m not one to condone hitting children. Or anyone else for that matter. Chavs excepted, obviously. And greasy racist politicians. And Mike Ashley. But to some extent I can see how in olden times teachers resorted to the belt or the cane. I don’t think it’ll have helped any, but it sure would have felt good to take the frustration out somehow!

Of course, whacking someone’s only going to make matters worse in the long run. I wholly believe that such methods lead you down the slippery path of violence being the natural solution to everything. If a teacher can leather me for swearing, then I can punch Wiggins in the face for stealing my sandwich.

These days, though, I reckon if you took a swing at Jenkins, he’d shank you.

Roll on Slayer in a couple of weeks… subject to Tom Araya recovering from back surgery otherwise the gig will be cancelled as have all their Canadian dates. I’ll need the mosh pit to release some tension, I think.

[disclaimer – the kids aren’t that bad. Most of them. Seriously, it’s the usual tiny minority that “spoil it for everyone else”]

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