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After independence day, still hell to pay;TES Survey;FE Focus

A TESLancaster University survey probed the public's views on the sector's performance. Ian Nash reports its findings


Wednesday, April 1: Wake up early again. Strange surroundings until head clears, and find self on loo in executive suite annexe. Must have dropped off after late corporation meeting. Take executive shower and stumble into office.

Brain stirs. Why is today special? Got it. Five years to the day since incorporation. Look back through past diaries to April 1 1993, and see triumphant entry: "Independence Day."

Of course, had not then seen recent blockbuster film. Did not know that alien life form with superior technology was about to invade. Planet saved by reformed drunk, glory days as pilot well behind him, careering with an H-bomb strapped to his tank into the underbelly of the alien mothership.

Note tomorrow's appointment visit to Cheylesmore House re capital support project. Idea forms. Rejected, since am not reformed.

Thursday April 2: Can't get the past out of my mind. Old diaries reveal quaint world of forgotten customs. As March 12, 1984: "Walked round college for an hour or two, chatting to staff." And "College HMI visited today, stayed for lunch; gave us some advice on something called TVEI, which seems to involve additional money for curriculum changes; left his bicycle clips behind."

Strange notion. Getting more money to do things better. An inefficiency gain. Anyway, back to reality. Today's programme:

8 am: audit committee meeting;

10 am: external auditors: is our management information system millennium- compatible?;

11 am: internal auditors revise three-year strategic audit plan;

12 noon: inspectors - setting the inspection agenda;

1 pm: self-assessment group - conducting a college curriculum audit;

2 pm: performance indicator group - the next 10 years;

3 pm: HP assessors: conducting a mock assessment;

4 pm: Audit by Health and Safety Executive inspector;

5 pm: DFEE European Social Fund verification unit, beneficiary audit trail meeting;

6 pm: Dinner in refectory - measure sausages, weigh potatoes, count peas.

Madness imminent. Must learn lessons from past. Not too late to change ways;

7 pm: Decide to walk round college and chat to staff;

8 pm: Pop into classroom. Someone asks for my identity badge and calls security when I can't find it:

9 pm: Escorted off-site by two retired policemen in college uniforms:

10 pm: Arrested and charged by former student of Access to Police course:

Friday April 3: Wake up early. Strange surroundings. Bail paid by director of finance. Emerge blinking into daylight. Arrive at college. Car gone. Removed as part of Further Education Funding Council's new clawback policy.

Snap out of it. Open post. Letter from TEC offers New Deal contract for 30 hours, 50 weeks and pound;1,500. Tempting or what? One from the LEA copy of submission to education assets board on ownership of disputed playing field. A writ from a local school. Thirteen Association of Colleges' bulletins on European employment law matters; letter from inspectors asking for more light touch pre-inspection information on number of staff with a teaching qualification gained at a Catholic training college before 1975. My vice-principal used to deal with all that.

Saturday April 4: Wake late from bad dreams of future shotgun marriages, feeding the 500,000 -Liberal Democrats win election on strong education platform, take a penny off average level funding to pay for primary schools. Groan, and set off for weekend college.

Graham Jones is the principal of Sutton Coldfield College

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