"Omnishambles" was named as the word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2012. The word, which was coined in 2009 by the writers of BBC comedy The Thick of It, means "a situation which is shambolic from every possible angle."
There is no word more appropriate to describe the mess that has been left trailing in the wake of RCT Labour Cabinet's decision to cut nursery education for three year olds from full to part time.
The decision was made in January, and the confusion was evident even then as the Cabinet Member when questioned by parents as she left the building did not appear to have any real idea of the effects of the decision she had just made.
Schools have been left trying to make sense of various directives and guidance letters from the Authority which have really done little but pass the buck to them. It is little wonder that parents are confused when there is no clarity of information from anywhere.
The Labour proposals made a big play of the line that they wanted more equality of provision across RCT, yet this is turning out to be providing anything but.
In January the Council issued guidance to Headteachers stating that Schools will only be funded for 15 hours per pupil per week nursery education for three year olds but that it was up to the individual schools to decide whether they could afford to top that up to full time or to provide wrap around care.
In response to one of the consultation questions about whether provision should be more equitable we said "Yes there should be more equity of provision across RCT, but the proposals will not achieve that, indeed if anything they have the potential to make things more inequitable as schools will potentially be providing different levels of service via wrap around care."
This is proving to be the case as some schools have now decided to offer full time placements whilst others say they cannot afford it. There must be question marks too over whether or not those who are able to afford to continue with full time provision for three year olds now will be able to do so in the future.
Indeed the January guidance actually said that "with possible future reductions in public sector expenditure, it may become harder for schools who offer additional school delivered nursery provision to continue for the foreseeable future."
In March changes were seemingly put on hold, at least temporarily, after the Council were served with papers indicating that formal legal action was to be initiated against the decision by parents. Schools were told not to make any irrevocable changes, such as issuing redundancy notices. Yet we are hearing reports that in some instances staff have indeed been told they are being made redundant as a result of the nursery education cuts.
The Parents against the cuts Facebook page shows many parents still asking questions about whether their children will be eligible for a full time place come September - neither their individual schools nor the Council have been able to tell them.
Is it any wonder they are confused? This is grossly unfair to pupils, parents and staff.