The Incredible Pettiness of Bureaucracy.

 


 The Incredible Pettiness of Bureaucracy: the scrabble to arse cover. 



I lodged a formal complaint with (redacted) on the morning of 11 February 2021.


I am today completing my application to withdraw from the GradDip ECE program. I cannot see how this can be resolved in any way that I will be comfortable and safe, studying with (redacted), handing in assignments to be marked by collaborating staff who are ultimately deciding my future, to which so far, they have shown so very little care.

I believe, as I am being forced to withdraw\ due to the circumstances (redacted) have created, the withdrawal fee of $309.00 should be waived and I would like to have a discussion in regards to having my expenditure so far towards the course compensated.

Although I made contact with (redacted) on the morning of 11 February 2021 in regards to lodging this complaint against (redacted) and (redacted), I was contacted by (redacted).


at 1730 also on 11 February 2021. 

Kia ora Susan,

Thanks for your email. I am sorry that you are dissatisfied with our communication. I have communicated with my manager (redacted) and she has asked that you please put in writing your situation to (redacted) the student services manager. I have cc’d (redacted) into this email. (redacted) is on leave on Friday but she will respond to the email that you send (redacted) in due course.

Ngā mihi, 


I applied to (redacted) on 16 November 2020, communicating with (redacted)’s enrolment staff and studylink with no problems and was accepted on to the program on 15 January 2021.

I was having a little trouble getting a home centre in which to complete my weekly hours (my ECE background is in Playcentre), but was assured both by email, telephone and during a zoom meeting that this was fine and to get my Student Education Agreement Forms in as soon as possible.  I did some door knocking and found a great place that I am over-the-moon to begin working with.  When the boss (redacted) phoned to offer me the position, I was so happy.  It made my day.  That was Saturday 30 January 2021.

On Sunday I flew to Wellington to attend the Sem1 block course (it was Northland anniversary day, so one less day of leave from work for my husband to look after our attachment parented son, who was also having his first day of school on Wednesday 3 February).  I attended the course and noho marae and enjoyed meeting everyone and making connections.

I raised a concern about the 13 hours per week being required over 2 days and asked if there was any flexibility.  (redacted) asked me to email the issue, which I did on 4 Feb, when I had returned home.  C&P below.


Good Morning (redacted),

Thanks for your time this week, teaching us all and helping me find a solution to this issue.

Our 5 year old started school this week and he needs mum or dad to drop off and pick him up, for a little while yet.  As the term progresses, and he becomes more confident we can make other arrangements.

The geographical locations of our life in the Far-North mean we have to travel a lot.  (redacted)’s school is 30 minutes from home and 30 minutes from my husband’s work (so drop off and pick up takes two hours) and the daycare I have gained ‘on-call casual’ employment, with making up my 13.5 hours per week volunteering.

When I am called in to work at the daycare I am getting paid, so my husband can take an hour off to do the drop off and/or pick up because I am in some way replacing that income.  However, we simply cannot take the financial hit from his reduced work hours if he has to take up to two hours out of his 8-hour day for this while I am volunteering.

During my zoom meeting with (redacted) we discussed this and as I am having surgery on 26 February that I will need to make up the hours – she explained that I could apply for leave for medical grounds.  I was certainly of the understanding that I was able to spread the hours to suit.

I’m sure it won’t take too long for (redacted) to be able to catch the bus with other kids in his class to the local OSCAR program, certainly in time for placements, but for his first few months he does need me to be his pick-up/drop off person.

I hope that initially I can spread the 13.5 hours requirement over more than 2 days, when I need to.  I do have past daycare and playcentre involvement and will certainly be getting to experience full-days once Joe is settled at school.

I’m sure my centre will be happy to accommodate the needs of my child while I volunteer with them.

Please let me know if this will be a suitable solution?

Kindest regards,


(redacted) replied also on 4 Feb:

Kia ora,

Thank you for your email Susan. I will discuss with (redacted) and colleagues and come back to you. Ngā mihi, Tui

(redacted) phoned me on Friday 5 Feb, but I was out of range (there are a lot of dead spots here) and again on Tuesday, but I was driving. I emailed (redacted) when I got home.


Thanks for your call today.

Sorry I missed you, I was driving, I do an awful lot of that!

I did go to my home centre this morning, but unfortunately I am unable to start there until my police clearance and contract have been completed.

Because it wasn't confirmed until the Saturday before block course, and the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly, we are still waiting. 

I will make myself available to take your call between 9 and 11 on Wednesday morning, if that suits you.

Ka kite


(redacted) replied:

Kia ora

Great, thank you Susan. I have a brief break at 10.30am on Wednesday so I will call you then. Txs, (redacted)


During this phone call (redacted) explained my initial email back to me, but seemed to have misunderstood most of my email and included a lot I hadn’t.  I read out this portion to her on the phone, ‘I have gained ‘on-call casual’ employment, with making up my 13.5 hours per week volunteering’, (as despite it being clear as written, seemed to have been interpreted as me not having a centre to do my required hours), to which I was told “that people interpret emails differently and I should understand this”.

The phone call continued, with (redacted) continually interrupting my answers to her questions and I had to ask to be let finish several times. No matter how many ways I phrased things she would not understand.  Then, after telling me “perhaps you need to think about your placement on the course”, I became upset and I was trying not to cry as my plans, hopes and dreams were being taken away from me, and (redacted) accused me of raising my voice and being unprofessional.  I am adamant I did not raise my voice.  I have worked in the MSD call-centre, was a regional coordinator for a large international company and no matter what I do not raise my voice in a phone conversation.  But it worked. (redacted)’s accusation effectively shut down the conversation.  She told me to ‘take a week to think about it’ and we would have a conversation.


 Immediately after this phone call, I wrote notes as is professional, and I emailed them to (redacted).


Hi (redacted), 

Following our conversation this morning I would like to reiterate these issues as discussed.

- My home centre placement was confirmed on Saturday 30 January 2021

- I was advised of my selection on to the 2021 Graduate Diploma of Teaching (ECE) programme on 15 January 2021

- My centre is following the law and their own policy in regards to employment.  I am unable to work at the centre until my police clearance is completed and my contract with the centre is signed.  This is beyond my, and the centre's control.

- My centre is happy for me to work and volunteer whatever hours are required to meet my course requirements.

- My surgery is an essential medical procedure.

- There are provisions in your policy to accommodate this

- I am happy to make up whatever hours are required

- The only barrier to me being successful in completing this course is the rigidity around my home centre hours, for which I only require some flexibility for a couple of months.

- I am sorry if you interpreted me getting upset, as my opportunity to complete this course is being taken away, as me raising my voice to you, I assure you although I certainly felt frustrated, I was actually trying to not cry as I was feeling increasingly powerless with the apparent lack of understanding in what to me is a simple solution.


Later that day I emailed (redacted) asking for her to summarise our conversation.

Hi there (redacted),

I would appreciate if you could summarize our conversation this morning in writing please.

Thanks


I received this as a reply:

Kia ora Susan,

Thanks for your email and phone conversation yesterday. Your apology is appreciated. Please be assured we are putting a lot of effort into supporting your study. Please find below a summary of points I took from our phone conversation and next steps. I look forward to hearing from you as to the likely timeframe for the police check. Ngā mihi, Tui

I clarified the GradDipTch(ECE) home centre requirements as per our programme approval. The programme requires that you work in contact with children in a voluntary or paid capacity in one licensed ECE centre (ie the same centre) for a minimum of 13 hours (6.5 hours per day across two days) per week.

We discussed and I understand the following in relation to your home centre hours: You are employed as a relief teacher (casual on call) at a centre in Kerikeri. You are confident you can meet the 13 hours per week because when the relief teacher (casual on call) hours don’t equate to 13 hours per week you can volunteer at the centre to make up the hours.

You would like to be exempt from undertaking the additional volunteer hours for a term to support your son who is starting school. I explained that we wanted you to be successful in your study and that the 13 hours across 2 days are a programme requirement and that they were to support your success.

You consider (redacted) is being inflexible in not allowing you to do the additional volunteer hours outside of the 2 days per week. You mentioned that as we are not flexible you will need to consider your enrolment in the programme. I explained the ‘on hold’ provisions. Further to our phone conversation please note that details of withdrawal and refunds are noted in the Student handbook.  Because you raised this as a possibility it is important that you are aware of these provisions. The withdrawal period where students are entitled to a fees refund (minus an administration fee) is 3 weeks from the programme start date (my underline).

I explained that leave provisions for extenuating circumstances are available for limited, but not extended, periods.

You would like to ‘make up’ hours that you are not able to do one week in another week. I explained the hours are an ongoing requirement.

We discussed that do not yet have a police clearance to work in a centre. You expressed frustration about the situation and repeatedly stated that it was (redacted) rather than the centre that was being inflexible. At this point I asked you not to raise her voice and to please be professional (my underline).

I asked you to check with the centre as to the likely timeframe for police clearance.

I also mentioned that I was aware that you had upcoming surgery planned for later in February. I stated that I wanted you to be successful in her study and that there was a combination of factors relating to your enrolment (as discussed today) that would need to be resolved.

You will contact your home centre and ascertain the likely timeframe for the police clearance. Following that please email me the response and we will have a further ph conversation.


 

I had a meeting with my centre boss, I’d had overnight to think, and when I received this email this morning, I was beyond surprised.  Again, most of what was discussed was incorrect.  It certainly seems as though I am simply a problem to manage out.  I feel completely powerless and somewhat bullied as this process continues.  I spoke to numerous people (redacted), followed their advice, and did everything asked of me and now I am being advised where to find withdrawal information.

I spent several hours going through my emails, and paperwork and the contacts I have had with staff at (redacted) and put together a reply to (redacted), answering each point in bold.


Thanks very much for that (redacted). 

I clarified the GradDipTch(ECE) home centre requirements as per our programme approval. The programme requires that you work in contact with children in a voluntary or paid capacity in one licensed ECE centre (ie the same centre) for a minimum of 13 hours (6.5 hours per day across two days) per week.

We discussed and I understand the following in relation to your home centre hours: You are employed as a relief teacher (casual on call) at a centre. You are confident you can meet the 13 hours per week because when the relief teacher (casual on call) hours don’t equate to 13 hours per week you can volunteer at the centre to make up the hours.

You were very insistent in pointing out a small mistake I had made on my initial email of 13.5 hours rather than 13 hours, but seemed unable to understand the information I had written, your understanding seemed to be the opposite of what I had written.  I read a sentence of the email back to you and you told me that people interpret emails differently and I should understand this.  Written communication is not an issue for me and it is not often my very clear writing style is misunderstood.

You would like to be exempt from undertaking the additional volunteer hours for a term to support your son who is starting school. I explained that we wanted you to be successful in your study and that the 13 hours across 2 days are a programme requirement and that they were to support your success.

This is incorrect. I have never asked for an exemption for undertaking the additional volunteer hours. Not in my initial email, nor in the phone conversation we had.

You consider (redacted) is being inflexible in not allowing you to do the additional volunteer hours outside of the 2 days per week. You mentioned that as we are not flexible you will need to consider your enrolment in the programme. I explained the ‘on hold’ provisions. Further to our phone conversation please note that details of withdrawal and refunds are noted in the Student handbook. Because you raised this as a possibility it is important that you are aware of these provisions. The withdrawal period where students are entitled to a fees refund (minus an administration fee) is 3 weeks from the programme start date.

Again, this is not correct, it was you who suggested I need to consider my enrolment in this program. Your words Tui, and I quote “perhaps you need to think about your placement on the course.” This is when I became upset.  You including information here on where I can find withdrawal information further confirms your expectation that I leave the course.

I explained that leave provisions for extenuating circumstances are available for limited, but not extended, periods.

This is not extended periods, these are circumstances beyond my control.  To add, this is also in line with what I was told by (redacted) via email, (redacted) during phone calls with her and the zoom meeting with (redacted) who told me my contact for applying for the required leave was (redacted). 

You would like to ‘make up’ hours that you are not able to do one week in another week. I explained the hours are an ongoing requirement.

I explained I was able to make up the hours if that was possible, I also as explained to you discussed this with (redacted)during the zoom interview.

We discussed that do not yet have a police clearance to work in a centre. You expressed frustration about the situation and repeatedly stated that it was (redacted) rather than the centre that was being inflexible. At this point I asked you not to raise her voice and to please be professional.

This is an incredibly frustrating situation.  I applied on 16 November 2020, submitted all documents required except for the Student Education Agreement with a home centre, because I had not yet found one.  I spoke to (redacted)via email, (redacted) during phone calls with her, and the zoom meeting with (redacted), and was assured it wasn’t a problem, to get the form in when I found a centre.  I was actually door-knocking centres to find a place, and felt incredibly lucky to find a centre that would not only employ me as a casual relief teacher, but I could do my home centre hours there. I found I was accepted for this position on 30 January 2021. My place on the course was confirmed on 15 January 2021 (I have the email to confirm this), despite you telling me during our phone conversation yesterday that I would not have been accepted on the course without a home centre.

I asked you to check with the centre as to the likely timeframe for police clearance.

I did this, and I am surprised that you didn’t know, it is a minimum of 20 days, this is the police requirement – not the centre, who are actually doing everything they can to accommodate me and my studies.  ECNZ also police checked me for entry to the course.

I also mentioned that I was aware that you had upcoming surgery planned for later in February. I stated that I wanted you to be successful in her study and that there was a combination of factors relating to your enrolment (as discussed today) that would need to be resolved.

Again, this was mentioned during my enrolment application in the zoom discussion with (redacted) who said it wouldn’t be a problem as there were good provisions for medical leave.  Furthermore, it is not arduous study, but straightforward and draws on many lines on previous study, and as a post-graduate I am well aware of what I am capable of.  It is (redacted) who is being inflexible, as there are many hours in a week and also semester breaks etc where making up home centre hours would be simple.  It beggar’s belief a learning institution should use my essential medical surgery as a way to pile-on and manage me out.

You will contact your home centre and ascertain the likely timeframe for the police clearance. Following that please email me the response and we will have a further ph conversation.

My police clearance is expected on 22 February 2021. This is due to circumstances outside of my centre’s control as police checks take a minimum of 20 days.  The timeline being:  The Centre lodged my police check papers on 2 Feb 2021 as 1 Feb was Auckland and Northland Anniversary day, and as I had spoken to (redacted) via email, (redacted)during phone calls with her and during the zoom meeting with (redacted), that it wasn’t a problem and just to get it sorted as soon as possible.

I left the conversation very clear that the expectation was for me to withdraw from the course and that I had a week to think about it.  If I was an employee, this would be considered constructive dismissal.  I feel I am being managed out because (redacted) refuses any flexibility for a situation that has occurred based on the information provided to me by (redacted), is completely beyond my control, and my essential medical surgery. 

I have been a full participant in the Block course and online discussion requirements. I have also invested months of time and planning and significant finances into this course, travelling to block courses, purchasing textbooks etc. While I was able to get a student loan, there is also an admin cost that wouldn’t be refunded should you be successful in managing me out within the 21 days refund period.  I enrolled early to undertake this DipGradECE as it aligned with my hopes, dreams and our future plans. 

Furthermore, due to the problems understanding my clear email, the misrepresentation of our phone conversation, and the accusation that I raised my voice and behaved unprofessionally, I am no longer prepared to discuss this issue over the phone or in Zoom and all further correspondence is to be in writing.

Unfortunately, I cannot see how this can be resolved in any way that I will be comfortable and safe, studying with (redacted), handing in assignments to be marked by collaborating staff who are ultimately deciding my future, to which so far they have shown so very little care.


On Friday 12 February I received an email from (redacted).

Kia ora Susan

Thank you for your email.  Unfortunately (redacted) is on leave today so I will not be able to meet with her until next week to discuss your compliant.  I am sure she will be wanting to resolve this issue promptly and per our policy, and so will be in contact with you as soon as she can.

With regards your Police Vet, I have today checked the Police Vetting website and can confirm your vetting has been completed with no result.  If it would help, a copy of this can be sent to you.  Your centre may be able to accept this until their check has been completed.

Ngā mihi


I was quite taken aback by this as (redacted) was being so rigid on their requirements, now I had asked something of them, and were asking me to ask my centre to waive their own regulations.


I replied; 

Thanks for your reply (redacted).

My centre, as is MoE regulation, must adhere to their policies. 

I asked for one small consideration from (redacted) around the 13 hours over two days for a few weeks to accommodate my child's needs, and it has blown up into this, and you are asking me to ask my centre if they will overlook their policy?

Wow.

You will see on this morning's email, that you have replied to:

"I am today completing my application to withdraw from the GradDip ECE program. I cannot see how this can be resolved in any way that I will be comfortable and safe, studying with (redacted), handing in assignments to be marked by collaborating staff who are ultimately deciding my future, to which so far, they have shown so very little care.

I believe, as I am being forced to withdraw\ due to the circumstances (redacted) have created, the withdrawal fee of $309.00 should be waived and I would like to have a discussion in regards to having my expenditure so far towards the course compensated."


(redacted)replied to me;


Kia ora Susan

I was only trying to help and it was only a suggestion as this has been accepted by some centres in the past.

I will get back to you further once a discussion has been had with the Director Teaching and Learning.


My reply;

Thanks.

But I have taken advice from a number of different people within (redacted)to do different things in different ways, and it has all turned to custard.

You must forgive me that my faith is shattered.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


On Tuesday 16 February 2021 I received an email from Student Services confirming my withdrawal.


On Friday 19 February 2021 I received the following email from (redacted);

Kia ora Susan

I understand that you have withdrawn from the Graduate Diploma ECE so I have discontinued the investigation into you complaint received on 11th  February

I am sorry that your enrolment in this programme didn’t work out as you had hoped and that the requirements around the field based practice hours were a barrier for you.

Whilst I understand your frustration with these constraints, (redacted)has to abide by the New Zealand Teaching Council and NZQA approval requirements.

I wish you all the best for your future endeavours.

Ngā mihi

(redacted)


I replied;

Hi there,

I believe I was forced to withdraw and as there was no way I would be able to continue given the actions of (redacted).

That you have ceased the investigation into how this came about is deplorable.

It is not acceptable for you to sweep this under the carpet and if you will not, I will take this further.

 

(redacted)forced me to withdraw from the course I had first enrolled in on 16 November 2020. I had carefully undertaken all their requirements, communicating with them, and followed their advice with my enrolment, home centre, attendance at the three-day workshop, I began my study in good faith and submitted work to the website as required.

It took me by great surprise, that rather than dealing with the single issue – me asking for some leeway in hours for a few weeks while my son settles in school, (redacted)piled on using my essential medical surgery and that my home centre clearance wasn’t through – despite me having cleared both of these during the enrolment process – to tell me that I should reconsider my place on the course. 

Once I no longer felt welcome to continue on the course, I withdrew and it appears as far as (redacted) are concerned, now I am no longer a student with them, there is no problem.

There is a problem, a massive problem. My plans for the year, and my future are shattered.  I have outlaid considerable expenses, missed my child’s first day of school (another student in the block course’s child was having surgery but she was still expected to attend the course – her words ‘I was bullied to attend’!) and, my husband had to take time off work to care for our child while I attended the block course.  All of which (my inconveniences) were planned in accordance with the requirements of the course I had planned to complete – however I was forced to withdraw because I followed the advice given by (redacted).  

This is the most incongruous situation, caused by (redacted), from which they are walking away facing no repercussions whatsoever, while I must pick-up and re-plan my future.


 


 


 


 


 

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