+Scott Watson

Monday, 9 June 2014

Greetland Academy Governance Media Release



For Immediate Release – Media Interviews Available 


A former Academy school governor has launched a scathing attack on what he terms Greetland Academy's governing bodies dereliction of duty to the school, parents, staff and students.

Scott Watson's claims relate to what he alleges are breaches of professional standards, flawed decision making and blatant ignorance of good practice when it comes to leadership, management, recruitment and transparency.

Watson, the Managing Director of a human resources consultancy, resigned as a governor due to what he states were a sickening lack of professionalism and arrogance demonstrated by senior members of the governing body.

“If this is considered to be effective governance, acceptable practice and value for money leadership, surely something is very badly wrong,” he states.

“The Principal and relevant governors refuse to discuss the matter, evade reasonable questions and Ofsted are unable to investigate it because it is outside their remit. The opportunity for a cover up to conveniently brush these matters under the carpet is immense,” he explains.

Serious Allegations

Watson’s allegations against the school and its processes include:

  • A gross dereliction of duty as a Governing body
  • A betrayal of trust placed in them by the community 
  • A failure of leadership to meet even basic professional standards
  • A decision making process based on pure guesswork rather than technical competence

“I believe the absence of transparency is deliberate and that the leader and senior members of the governing body are absolutely determined to hide away from being held accountable.  The fact that the Principal is paid handsomely to be accountable doesn't even get a look in,” he states.

“Moreover, an absence of understanding of legislation and an ignorance of basic professional standards does not constitute effective leadership. It's like students marking their on homework and MP's approving their own expenses. It lacks transparency and unwillingness for independent scrutiny,” explains Watson.

Breaches of Legislation

“As an HR professional, I have identified several likely breaches of legislation re The Education Act, employment legislation regarding bullying and harassment as well as a possible instance of disability discrimination. As such, I will be calling for several resignations,” he comments.

“Due to the behaviour and decisions of specific members of the Governing body, the governing body collectively acts more like a secret society than a Governing body which should be serving the Greetland community. There has been a blatant attempt to bury the truth, distort the facts and simply spin their way out of a deep hole they dug themselves,” states Watson.
Ofsted Powerless

Ofsted has advised Watson that it cannot become involved in reviewing the complaint as it falls outside its legal remit.

“Ultimately, the Governing Body can do whatever it likes, without being held accountable. It’s a license to behave badly and even operate outside the law if it wishes to do so,” he concludes.

- Ends -

Editors Notes:

Scott Watson is available for broadcast and other news media interview by contacting Chris Shaw at Sure Media Relations.

  • Watson met with his MP Craig Whittaker, sought expert guidance from a governance lawyer and from the Department of Education funded, Governorline to ensure complete understanding the issues. Governorline operates independently and provides expert guidance and advice to Governors.

  • Due to the fact that making an official complaint about a Governing Body falls outside Ofsted’s legal responsibilities, the only way to have this matter investigated is by submitting a complaint to an Academy's Governing Body. In essence, the Governing Body would investigate all the matters itself.  Clearly issues relating to the governing bodies competence and willingness to objectively investigate these matters is a cause for serious concern.

  • Watson was appointed as a Governor by parents in November 2011, with a remit to improve the quality of teaching, ensure accountability within the Governing Body and achieve transparency in the decision making process.

  • During a meeting with the Principal and Chair of Curriculum and Staffing Committee, Watson was encouraged to make a formal complaint against a teacher. Prior to this, the Principal described the teacher’s appointment as 'regrettable'. 




Press Information:

Chris Shaw
Sure Media Relations
Telephone 01484 606 939
Mobile 07527 448 650

Monday, 28 April 2014

NHS Whistleblowers will Improve Patient Care says HR Expert


Culture of ‘Self-Preservation’ Hinders Patient Care

A culture of self-preservation in the NHS is damaging patient welfare and emotional well-being, claims an HR expert with experience in working in the sector.

According to Summit Training Managing Director Scott Watson, junior staff in the NHS are reluctant to question flawed decision-making and to challenge the authority of more senior staff. And he argues that ‘self-preservation’ is seen as the key reason that more people fail to ‘blow the whistle’ on bad practices. 

What is needed, Watson argues, is a culture of candour, where staff can discuss issues and share good practices without fear for their jobs or loss of standing with their boss.

While targets are an important part of organisational life, they must be partnered with a very clear human focus to be of any genuine value. And this, he states, is where NHS Trusts and Government directives are failing to offer patient-centric care. Welcoming a practice of ‘whistleblowing’ would help expose these bad practices and promote more accountability and transparency with senior leaders and managers who are being trusted, expected and indeed paid, to do the right thing and maintain high standards.

“An example of this occurred recently at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, with a report stating that patients and families have suffered from a lack of basic kindness, compassion and care. The focus on providing a high level of patient care has been swept aside, in the rush to deliver targets,” states Watson.

“Technical competence and professional seniority do not automatically provide a medical practitioner with the vital qualities of empathy and emotional resilience.  These skills develop with practice and training, which a culture of candour would foster,” he adds.


More Whistleblowers Needed

Alongside technical and medicinal training, medical staff employed in a patient facing role should also undertake Emotional Intelligence skills training, states Watson.

“As well as improving and developing high trust relationships with worried patients, Emotional Intelligence skills will promote a culture of candour where staff, however junior, feel safe in speaking their truth to managers and in suggesting better processes and procedures. A very positive form of ‘whistleblowing’,” he states.

“Staff will also be better equipped to manage the inevitable stresses they will experience, as well as being better able to obtain more relevant, precise information from patients. This will enable them to reach better decisions on how to treat the individual,” concludes Watson.

Monday, 10 March 2014

How To Successfully Get An Upgrade On A Flight

Successfully negotiating an upgrade on a flight has become somewhat of a mystery.

The days of 'FREE' upgrades have all but vanished, and the published prices of flight upgrades can appear disproportionately expensive when compared to the Economy class flight tickets.

Due to the ever changing aviation legislation, and the fact that each airline providing an 'upgrade' is compelled to pay tax on the seat being used, the FREE upgrade is no longer viable.  But this certainly doesn't mean that you can't secure an upgrade at a fantastic price - way below the published prices.

Below, I've detailed the approaches I use (pretty successfully) to secure a flight upgrade when flying long haul.  I stress long haul purely due to the fact that short haul flights of up to 3 - 4 hours, the quality of service, comfort and actual value in terms of food and drink are rarely much greater value than economy.  All you benefit from is a slightly more palatable meal….and a curtain separating business class from economy.  Hardly worth additional expense!

Visit your airline's web site and check whether there is an option to upgrade your travel class and ticket following your purchase of an economy ticket.  Most major airlines have this facility available, even though many don't actively promote the service.  Why would they, unless they were really desperate to fill the more expensive seats?

Etihad for example has an online bidding facility.  You visit the upgrade page and then 'Blind Bid' for the upgrade.  Their upgrade page has a colourful bid chart which begins with red (for low bids) and culminates in a bright green (likely successful bids).  As you move your mouse from left to right, the likelihood of your bid being 'successful' is increased.  The key challenge for you, the consumer, with this highly visual gamble?  You have absolutely no idea whether your blind bid offer is being compared to other consumer's blind bids, or, whether the airline has set it's own, perhaps high cost, minimum reserve price.  The danger for you in using this blind bid approach is that, if you get so connected to wanting to fly business class, your emotions are quite possibly to take control over your credit card.  And that's NEVER a good idea!


So, my first tip is to steer clear of blind bid invitations from your airline!

Second tip.  Join their Frequent Flyer programme. Just possessing one of the airline's branded loyalty cards demonstrates a certain loyalty to their brand.

At Check-In

If check-in for your flight opens 3 hours prior to departure, arrive early so you are at, or very near, the front of the queue.  Why?  If the airline still has empty seats in a higher class a few hours before departure, they would much rather have somebody paying something to take the seat rather than nobody paying anything!  This is where your negotiating position is strengthened immensely.  But you need to do a few other things to boost your possibility of success!

Be Polite, Collaborative And Smile

Whatever time of day or night, check-in operators have likely had to deal with one or two awkward customers already.  And you don't want to be added to that list!

It's important that you are received as genuinely polite, collaborative and understanding of the pressures your check-in operator has had, is having or things s/he is going to experience with this flight's passengers.

When in line I'll often make a polite, light hearted comment to build some level of collaboration and co-operation with the check-in agent.  If I'm right at the front of the queue I'll approach him or her, smile and say 'Good morning.  We thought it best for you that you get the REALLY nice passengers first.'  This usually raises a smile or a chuckle from the check-in agent, who then suddenly becomes…a partner rather than a foe!  If I'm not first in line, I'll observe which check-in agent is smiling the most (good mood) and which appears to be having some grief from a passenger or two, and then target them as my check-in agent.  Why?

If a check-in agent is having a good day, you can add to it and stack even more positive emotions on him or her.  If s/he is having a tough day, you have a fantastic opportunity to help him or her step out of the negative emotional state, and smile.  You may not truly understand just how much a stressed check-in agent appreciates some light hearted banter, and to realise that s/he is not going to be your victim.  Step in to his or hers shoes when you've observed them having to deal with a high maintenance passenger.  I tend to use 'It looks like you had a tough time with Mr Nasty a moment ago.'  Wait for the response, which is usually raised eyebrows, pursed lips and then a deep breath in…and looong exhalation, and then say 'I promise you I will be completely, absolutely and very positively different.'  Smile as you do this, and you suddenly put him or her at complete ease.  And guess what.  They become extremely helpful towards you.  In the UK, act out the cub scout three finger promise which adds a little more drama, and which puts you in to a collaborative chat rather than adversarial fight.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER…wearing expensive jewellery or exclusive branded clothing

Why not?  Well. you might feel comfortable wearing your Tag or Gucci watch which cost you £1,000 to £4,000 or the Paul Smith shirt which set you back a few hundred pounds, but what are you really doing?  You're weakening your negotiating position BECAUSE you are openly showing you like expensive treats.  Why would an airline, having spotted your expensive tastes, then wish to provide you with the best and lowest price upgrade?  THEY WOULDN'T!

Pop your posh watch in your pocket and wear a smart, but perhaps unbranded clothing and you're on your way to a good negotiation.

DON'T Ask For The 'Best Price'

What happens when you are wanting to buy a car from a showroom sales rep and you ask him or her 'What's your best price?'  They immediately evade answering your question and then disappear to speak with their boss (real or imaginary).  Then they return and want to negotiate upwards - in their favour.

Avoid this stand-off by asking a different, more collaborative question such as 'Please will you let me know what's the best price you have available for these seats…a price where I can enjoy a fabulous flight..and you can make a decent profit on my purchase?'

This very question is one that absolutely nobody will ask.  And your check-in agent will view your unique approach as a refreshing change.  You'll probably spot a smile on the check-in agent's face and develop a small level of trust, but lots of automatic collaboration and reciprocity.

Have your credit card ready and in view of your check-in agent at this point.  Demonstrating visually a willingness (but not eagerness) to pay for the upgrade does help you along.

Flinch...Like You've Never Flinched Before


When presented with the price of the upgrade, whatever the price and even if it is within your allocated budget, FLINCH.

What do I mean by 'flinch'?  A flinch is a visual method of demonstrating non acceptance and/or disapproval of the information you have just received.  Think of it this way.  When you were a young child and mis-behaved, did your mother ever just have to look at you with one eyebrow raised and tilt her head slightly to the side to communicate to you that you needed to stop what you were doing?  That's a flinch!

Basically what you are communicating to your check-in agent is that 'You'll have to do better than that if you want my cash'.  Remember, just because you can afford the initial price, doesn't necessarily mean you should pay it!  Flinch, and then wait patiently for a few seconds.  In a slightly uncomfortable silence, your check-in agent will do one of two things.

1.  Tell you that the price s/he quoted to you is the only price available. (and it may be of course)

2. Ask you how much above your budget the price is (and then you can begin negotiating)


Always Flinch.  Even if you feign surprise by raising your eyebrows or shock through startled looking eyes, do something! If your check-in agent says that the price quoted is the best s/he can offer, then it's over to you to make a decision.  But if s/he asks 'How does that price sound to you?', this is your opportunity to claim that the price quoted is however many hundreds of pounds or dollars above your budget, and then ask 'Can you do it for (name your price - which must be reasonable), and then be silent.  Why?

If you keep on talking you don't provide your check-in agent with the opportunity to think, or indeed respond.  And by not allowing silence, you may just be missing out on a better price.

Boost Your Negotiating Position With Travel Companions

If you are travelling alone, you can use the approaches above. And remember, a win-win outcome is the best outcome.  But if you have travelling companions, as I did on a recent trip to Abu Dhabi from Manchester, you are in an even stronger position to negotiate.

My wife and ten year old daughter were accompanying me on a mid-March holiday and they had no idea that I had researched upgrade prices on the airline's web site.  So, as check-in - we were first in line as we arrived rather early, I asked the check-in agent if she had any seats in business class available.  What was her likely immediate first thought? Quite possibly 'He's after something for nothing'.  But, as she was about to respond to my question with her own script and agenda, I interjected 'I'm not wanting a FREE upgrade, that's not win win.  I'm happy to pay for THREE seats IF the price is acceptable.'

Having already overheard two of this ladies colleagues discussing that the flight was full and there was a possibility of 'bumping' some passengers on to a later flight if all passengers booked on the flight actually turned up to check in, I then continued 'There's three passengers you won't need to bump if we can get this done now….and you may even be able to re-sell our economy seats too'.

Within just 180 seconds, the helpful check-in agent confirmed that indeed there were three seats available in business class for us to enjoy.  She then continued to advise us of the price (which was VERY acceptable) and that our seats were all on the same row and she was confident that we would all have a wonderful time.

Consider these points before you decide not to negotiate for an upgrade the next time you fly long-haul.

If you don't ask, they won't offer.

FREE is not win-win.  Allow the airline to make money from you - within a win-win dialogue.

Always smile, be genuinely pleasant and consider the check-in agent's pressures and position.

NEVER look so luxury branded that the check-in agent destroys your bargaining position.

ALWAYS use a flinch to demonstrate disappointment or shock with the price, and use this as a starting point to your negotiation.

Have your credit card in full sight of the check-in agent to demonstrate an intention to purchase - if the price is acceptable.

NEVER get so connected to securing the upgrade that you are so emotionally engaged that you can't walk away.  Disappointment is quickly overcome - your larger credit card bill may not be that easy!

Written by:
Scott Watson
http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk/



























Monday, 17 February 2014

Former Greetland Academy Governor Takes School Complaint to Heart of Government

Former Greetland Academy Governor Takes School Complaint to
Heart of Government


For Immediate Release – Interviews Available 


At a time when Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw is calling for School Governors to be more accountable, one former West Yorkshire School Governor is taking the challenge to the heart of Government.

Scott Watson, a director of a Halifax–based HR consultancy and a former Governor of Greetland Academy, has highlighted alarming issues surrounding the appointment and effective management of teaching staff at the school.

According to Watson, the situation has been worsened by the Principal and Chair of Governors’ evasive behaviour to serious concerns he raised while serving as an elected member of the Governing Body.

Ofsted has advised Watson that it cannot become involved in reviewing the complaint as it falls outside its remit.

“Ultimately, the Governing Body can do what it likes. It’s a license to operate outside the law,” he claims.

"I was appointed as a Governor by parents in November 2011, with a remit to improve the quality of teaching, ensure accountability within the Governing Body and achieve transparency in the decision making process,” states Watson.

“My experience highlighted that the Principal and Chair of Governors were more concerned with paying lip service to the Government’s requirements, while presenting a fa├žade to the community and stakeholders they are trusted to serve,” he adds.

"During a meeting with the Principal and Chair of Curriculum and Staffing Committee, I was encouraged to make a formal complaint against a teacher. Prior to this, the Principal described the teacher’s appointment as 'regrettable'. If the individual concerned was not performing to the required standard, why did the Governing Body waste two years?" explains Watson.

“Given my experience in the sector, it is abundantly clear to me that the incorrect interpretation of Government process has cost the school two years of wasted salary and benefits, as well as an incalculable lost opportunity to deliver effective teaching to students who deserve better, and whose parents understandably expect better,” states Watson.

“And now, Ofsted says it has no power to intervene in the failures of school Governing Bodies,” he concludes.

- Ends -

Editors Notes:

Scott Watson is available for broadcast media interview by contacting Chris Shaw at Sure Media Relations.

  • Governorline is the Government's independent helpline for school Governors. While funded by the Department for Education, Governorline operates independently and provides expert guidance and advice to Governors.
  • Due to the fact that making an official complaint about a Governing Body falls outside Ofsted’s legal responsibilities, the only way to have a matter investigated is by submitting a complaint to an Academy's Governing Body.
  • In essence, the Governing Body would investigate itself.


Press Information:

Chris Shaw
Sure Media Relations
Telephone 01484 696 066
Mobile 07527 448 650
E-mail chris@suremediarelations.co.uk