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After paramedics come parapolice

Education is not the only area where New Labour is pushing for an expansion of the role of para-professionals.

The "blue skies" paper itself draws a parallel with the National Health Service. It says that learning can be delivered through teams of teachers and school support staff in the same way that operating is done by teams of doctors, paramedics and nurses.

It adds that support staff could do more direct teaching, "just as nurses play an increasingly important role in direct patient treatment, not just patient washing".

And there have been moves by the Home Office to introduce community support officers to take on routine duties previously done by fully-qualified police.

But whether Government officials would ever suggest actually reducing doctor or police numbers to pay for the new para-professionals is another matter.

Perhaps education is a special case. Further education has already seen an increase in agency staff as envisaged for schools in the DfES paper.

This year is the 10th anniversary of incorporation - when colleges were removed from local education authority control, and given new legal freedoms.

A new genre of macho principals took over: they tore up employment rules, cut lecturers' wages, used supply agencies to fill positions, and made thousands of staff redundant. The result has been an underfunded demoralised FE sector. Twenty thousand lecturers have quit the profession since incorporation - not to be replaced.

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