Friday, 4 December 2009

Let’s Look The Other Way

I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care,
I had the time, and I was there.

But I didn’t want to seem a fool,
Or argue over a safety rule.
I knew he’d done the job before,
If I called it wrong, he might get sore.
The chances didn’t seem that bad,
I’ve done the same, he knew I had.

So I shook my head and walked on by,
He knew the risks as well as I.
He took the chance, I closed an eye,
And with that act, I let him die.

I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
Now every time I see his wife,
I’ll know I should have saved his life.

That guilt is something I must bear,
But it isn’t something you need to share,
If you see a risk that others take,
That puts their health or life at stake.
The question asked, or thing you say,
Could help them live another day.

If you see a risk and walk away,
Then I hope you never have to say,
I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
by Don Merrell

What has happened to our society ? Why do people choose to look the other way ? We can help one another collectively but we do not. Is it through fear, fear of litigation or is that we have all been worn down by bureaucratic processes that have made us insular ? Or simply that we choose not to as there is nothing in it for us ?

Over the years, I have asked for advice and help – without exception, those who could help ‘look the other way’. This is especially noticeable within the framework of education.

By definition, the LEA, school governance and management are there to ultimately support us, the teachers. Through such support, we can do our jobs much more effectively.

But it is not like that ! The structure is fragmented into isolated components, each protected by barriers that block effective communication. So when you need help and advice, it is easier and safer to deflect the request, often by reflecting a view of blame and failure – so you give up asking for help … and everyone looks the other way !

I have several examples of those who looked the other way who were in a position to help me :

I had written to Steve Belbin, Lancashire County Council, Schools Advisor in January 2009, pleading for his help. He had provided me with guidance in the past and he had observed my lessons on several occasions. I had had discussions with Steve about the bullish nature of Andrew Kidd, head teacher. Steve had said that he and his predecessors already were aware of the head teacher’s management style.

----- Original Message -----
From: Belbin, Stephen
To: ‘Jane Watts’
Cc: Welch, Vic
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 12:57 PM
Subject: RE: J.Watts Duke St Chorley.

Good afternoon Jane, nice to hear from you.

I’m sorry to hear that things haven’t been going too well for you lately. Having spoken to our HR I have been advised that I cannot be involved in a matter which is, as such, between yourself and your employer (ie the Governors).

I am sorry I can’t be more helpful and I hope the matter is resolved as soon as it can be.

Best wishes,


It is evident from Steve Belbin’s e-mail reply that he could have and should have been allowed to contribute and make comment. Lancashire County Council, as his employer, denied him this opportunity. In fact, Steve Belbin should have had the moral conviction to speak - in the end he chose to look the other way !

This is another clear example that Lancashire County Council never wanted the truth and the facts of my case to be heard. Their focus, all along, was that I should be found guilty and that any and every opportunity I had to prove otherwise was suppressed by them.