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GRADES IN CIVIL SERVICE IN THE UK



 

Ø 1) Look through the text and make a supposition which category of readers this text will be interesting for.

(1) If you are a new recruit, arriving on your first day, you will first meet support (administrative) staff in reception areas delivering papers. They also carry out routine casework and provide direct support for senior staff. They are very important, not only because nothing would function without them, but also because they see more clearly than anyone else what is going on. If you want to know whether a unit is well run, and provides a good service to its customers, you will generally get a better informed, and more honest, answer from support staff.

(2) Next up the chain is middle management (or executive grades). They help to formulate and to amend policy. They deal with more difficult casework and help Ministers to respond to letters from the public. A small number of them are in the Fast Stream - serving a three to five year apprenticeship before being promoted to Grade 7 and then into the Senior Civil Service.

(3) Titles such as Grade 7, or Principal are old-fashioned, and have been replaced by a wide range of other titles. There is no common title used across Whitehall, so the old titles live on. The main ones, at Grade 7 and above, are shown in the following table:

 

  Very Old Title Old Title Nowadays often known as
Senior Civil Service Cabinet Secretary & Head of the Civil Service
Permanent Secretary (Civil Service Head of each department)
Deputy Secretary Grade 2 Director General
Under Secretary Grade 3 Director
Assistant Secretary Grade 5 Director or Assistant Director
  Senior Principal, Principal Grade 6, Grade 7 Deputy Director, Assistant Director, Team Leader, Policy Manager etc.

 

(4) What do these senior people do? They help Ministers and other officials to deliver Ministers objectives, both by giving advice to Ministers and by implementing Ministers decisions. They need to be able to work closely and effectively with Ministers, with other Whitehall civil servants, with the wider civil service, with the private and voluntary sectors and with pressure groups. They operate more like a club than a hierarchical organisation - and that is simultaneously their great strength and their great weakness.



(5) The key grade is Grade 7. Grade 7s are expected to know all there is to know about their policy area, and to know all the key players, pressure groups and so on. In a well-run department, you will find that senior officials listen very carefully to their Grade 7s, and tend to operate in a way which supports their Grade 7s, rather than vice versa.

(6) People in the Senior Civil Service include employees outside Whitehall, specialists and employees who first worked in other sectors. Indeed, the long-term aim is to have around one-third of the Senior Civil Service recruited from outside the civil service. Jobs in Senior Civil Service vary hugely, but usually include one or more of the following:

agreeing strategic aims with Ministers, and communicating those aims to Grade 7s and others;

agreeing and providing the financial and human resources needed to achieve those aims;

deploying their greater knowledge and experience in support of Grade 7s;

trouble-shooting;



undertaking complex casework and project management, and

acting as a personal adviser to Ministers.

(7) The breadth of responsibilities increases with increasing grade. Most departments structure themselves so as to cut out one of these tiers in each management hierarchy. It is worth noting that many senior officials do not necessarily mean more power. They have to rely on others both for information and for delivery, and they are often heavily constrained by political factors, including the independence of each Secretary of State, and hence the independence of each departmental senior management team.

(8) Other constraints on senior officials include the need to avoid annoying Ministers, and the club-like nature of senior officialdom. The latter can be a good thing because it encourages senior officials to work collaboratively rather than just for their own Ministers. But the clubiness of the Senior Civil Service can also lead to senior officials being over-tactful in their dealings with one another, which can delay change, leads to poor annual appraisals, and creates confused expectations.

Ø 2) Which paragraph of the text:

a)describes the relations between Grade 7s and senior officials?

b)describes the responsibilities of middle management?

c)explains the contemporary use of titles in civil service?

d)notes that many senior officials in the department do not necessarily mean more power?

e)mentions Fast Stream program for civil servants?

f)evaluates pros and cons of the club-like nature of senior officialdom?

g)says that departments support staff is very important?

h)mentions the long-term aim of the British civil service?

 

Ø 3) Find professionally-relevant terms in the text. Find Russian equivalents to them.

THE MANDARINS OF WHITEHALL

Ø 1) Read the text and answer the questions:

a)Are civil servants famous?

b)Do civil servants often speak in public?

c)Do civil servants in the UK change jobs after the change of government?

d)Are British civil servants powerful?

e)There are many civil servants in Britain, arent there?

f)What do British civil servants do?

g)What is Whitehall?

h)Who are called the Mandarins of Whitehall?

i)Why is it good to be a civil servant in the UK?

j)Why do people dislike British civil servants?

k)All civil servants are the most intelligent and best-trained people, arent they?

 

Ø 2) Translate the second paragraph of the text and give your opinion on the sentence Civil servants in the UK stay in the same department for years.

 

(1)Politicians are famous. Civil servants are not. Politicians talk loudly about everything they have done or are going to do. Civil servants almost never speak in public. Politicians come and go as their parties rise or fall. Civil servants stay in the same department for years. People think that politicians are the men and women with the most power. But civil servants can be just as powerful.

(2)The job of the civil service is to carry out the wishes of the government. But in Britain the government changes every three or four years. One government might ask for a big new road to be built. The next government might try to stop it. The civil servants see all the problems and difficulties of introducing new ideas. They often try to compromise. They sometimes try to make the government change its mind, or to delay decisions which they do not like. This can be a good thing. It can stop the country from rushing into hurried changes. It can make sure that governments act sensibly. But it can be a bad thing. It can slow down important reforms.

(3)There are many civil servants in Britain. They collect taxes, pay peoples pensions, look after the prisons, and give help to industries and farms. They look after the countrys defence, and organize hospitals, museums, and roads. The cost of this large civil service is very great indeed, and governments are always trying to cut it down.

(4)On the whole, civil servants are not very popular with the British people. Some people are jealous of their safe jobs and good pensions. Some also feel that civil servants are too slow to change, and too blind to the needs of ordinary people. The top people in the civil service are sometimes called the Mandarins of Whitehall (Whitehall is the street in London where many big government departments are located). But the popular idea of the civil service is not always fair. Some departments have plenty of good ideas and can move fast to carry them out. And the top civil servants are some of the most intelligent and best-trained people in the country. Civil servants can still be proud of the good service they give in many areas of life. After all, without them the country would just come to a stop.

 

Ø 3) Read the text Vivian Brown: a British Civil Servant and prove that the main character is a typical British civil servant.

 

5.23 VIVIAN BROWN: A BRITISH CIVIL SERVANT

Ø 1) Read the text and answer the questions:

a)Vivian Brown has a very good job, doesnt he?

b)How does he get to work?

c)What does he wear at work?

d)What does he like about his job?

e)Does he have international experience?

f)What is his marital status?

g)What is an au pair girl?

 

In the old days, civil servants wore black bowler hats and dark suits, and they carried long umbrellas. But not now.

Take Vivian Brown for example. He has a very good job in the Department of Trade and Industry. He has to make important decisions about the future of British businesses. He works with the top men in his Department, and he often has discussions with government ministers. But Vivian Brown (aged thirty-nine) rides a bicycle to work, wearing a pair of jeans. True, he changes into a suit when he arrives at the office. But at about six-thirty, when his days work is over, he changes back into his jeans and cycles home again.

Vivian Brown could have chosen any kind of job. He did well at school, and very well indeed at Oxford University, where he studied Arabic. But the civil service offered lots of interesting chances. Like many other clever young men and women, Vivian chose to make it his career. When he left Oxford, he took the difficult civil service exams, and passed.

For Vivian, the best thing about his job is the variety. He likes changing from one kind of work to another. In the past fifteen years he has worked on Britains space programme, and on Concorde, the supersonic aeroplane. He has travelled around Britain, meeting heads of universities, and well-known scientists. He has even travelled abroad. The Department of Trade and Industry lent him to the Foreign Office for three and a half years. During that time he and his family lived in Saudi Arabia.

Vivian is not the only successful person in his family. His wife has a very good job, too. She is a doctor in a large hospital, with a special interest in very young babies. She works long hours, and is often away from home at night. So who looks after their two young children? Like many other middle-class parents, the Browns have an au pair girl. Au pair girls are usually students from European countries who want to live in an English family and learn English. They work for about four or five hours a day, helping in the house or looking after children. In their free time they go to English classes, or go out with friends. At the same time young Matthew and Oliver Brown can practise their French, Dutch or German. It will be very useful when they grow up, and - who knows? - join the civil service.

Ø 2) Name the words and expressions that belong to the topic work.

Ø 3) Describe Vivian Browns career path.


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