4 pm 12th July 2022 a date/time that I’ll likely not forget in a hurry. It was the time that I was booked into a Zoom with 2 members of the Trinity College London team to discuss their recommendations as suggested by The MTA’s pre-validation report that I had been expecting the w/c 14th March, a report that just a few weeks earlier I had formally complained to TCL about as we hadn’t received it.
TCL’s subject manager sent me the report just an hour earlier for me to look through before the meeting. The lateness of the perusal copy was later criticised by the external arbiter that TCL had brought in to look at our complaint. I can remember opening that attachment like it was yesterday. I had already had a Zoom meeting about the report we were expecting back on 2nd March. At that meeting, I had met with the 2 assessors who had spent the day with us at the college a few weeks earlier. They discussed their recommendations at length with me and worked with me to find a way forward to implement their changes. Changes that were eventually so simple to implement that I managed to make them overnight. This report though bore zero resemblance to that conversation, in fact, it bore zero resemblance to the course or the college.
I remember reading the report in shock – it just didn’t make any sense at all. I went into that Zoom fully expecting them to apologise for sending the wrong report. In reality, I was confronted by Trinity’s then Director of Performance telling me from the outset that our course was never going to fit into their diploma model. I sat there dumbstruck as he spoke at me for around 10 mins. The more he spoke the more it was evident that he didn’t have a clue what he was talking about when it came to The MTA. By that, I don’t mean subjectively I mean factually.
I challenged him as he spoke at me about “Trinity’s concerns” as it truly felt like we were speaking at cross purposes – he clearly didn’t have a clue about The MTA’s course and clearly had no idea about the in-depth discussions that I’d already had with our main assessor some months earlier. Every so often the other person would interrupt trying to “explain to me” what her colleague meant – but I left that meeting shell-shocked and very angry – I was straight on the phone to the chair of the board and to my senior faculty expressing my concerns. Literally, nothing added up I felt very strongly that I had been gaslit by TCL throughout the meeting. I mean as it turned out it seems like this is just business as usual for them, as the organisation later put out 2 public statements both of which were littered with inaccuracies, and both had a gaslighting feel to them.
It was a few hours later that I had the epiphany of realising that our main assessor’s comments were just not present in the report. THIS was why the report was problematic – it had not been written by the assessor. Of course, at that stage, I couldn’t prove it but I was adamant that I was right. TCL had been attempting to gaslight me (an accusation that they would later deny). It was a few weeks later until my suspicions were confirmed when the first whistleblower came forward, they confirmed that there had been a different report, a report that correlated with the recommendations received in that first Zoom months earlier. To this day TCL have denied this.
In fact, the whistleblowers (as very soon there was more than one) had been able to give us A LOT of information which explained the delays and indeed explained our TCL journey to date. Whilst TCL continue to deny the alternative account and instead threaten to sue me over my constant calls for accountability, over the past few months even more information has been passed onto me proving that we were right to call out TCL for malpractice.
A year later The MTA is no more, however, the fight to hold TCL accountable is still ongoing. Now with journalists interested, and an MP supporting our call for further investigation, this fight is far from over even if the college is.
I guess the question now is why keep fighting as nothing can change the outcome for The MTA – yet to me that’s simple, as it was never about the college. It was about the training industry as a whole and how vulnerable it is having an organisation which gate keeps government funding streams operating outside all regulations at the point of application. There is an enormous loophole in the validation process and we were unlucky to have fallen through it. However that loophole still exists, many of the people that knowingly lied are still in a position to influence which colleges get funding via their validation process.
So here’s to the year ahead and us getting answers to the following questions:
- Why did the pre-validation report only comment on dance and voice with zero references to the singing & acting on the observation day?
- Why did the pre-validation report and subsequent investigation state that implementing assessments and marking would be a systemic shift for us – when these things had already been in place for a number of years?
- Why did TCL lie about who saw our productions, indeed why did they lie about watching our online archives, changing the story to cover up the fact that online analytics had completed caught them out
- Why did they only investigate our “appeal” when we threatened them with legal action?
- Why does TCL think that it’s good practice for the people directly named in the dispute to be the exact same people that answer subsequent external arbiter and Charity Commission questions?
- Who actually verified the authenticity of one of the crucial bits of evidence offered to the external arbiter given that people involved in that transaction were off sick at that time?
- How could a college possibly go from “not good enough” to “good enough” within 3 months, yet nothing changed?
- Why did TCL feel the need to lie to their examiners and make out that they were being targeted and threatened when they discovered that whistleblowers had started to speak to us?
I mean I could go on – but you get the picture. So to celebrate this “anniversary” I’d like to thank all of our industry friends that are still fighting for us behind the scenes. Thank you for knowing that we were right not to let this go. Thanks for not forgetting that The MTA has one final bit of business to finish. It makes a difference knowing quite how many of you still want this to be investigated fully. I’m rather fascinated that nobody in the past year has told me to forget it. Accountability and justice is always worth fighting for