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Big Apple fails to curry favour

London's Institute of Education is cock-a-hoop at reversing the brain-drain. Assessment guru Dylan Wiliam - the bald, bearded and earringed Welshman who departed these shores in 2003 to become senior research director at Princeton's Educational Testing Service - has been lured back to be its deputy director. He succeeds the popular Barbara MacGilchrist, expert on school improvement and co-author of The Intelligent School. It would be wrong to think Professor Wiliam was hooked by the salary (c pound;100,000). When he said that he had moved to Princeton "because that's where the money is", he was referring to people and resources for research. What attracted him back, he confides in the institute's magazine, is the rare chance he now has to do both policy and leadership work and serious scholarly research. So the institute wins the talents of the co-author of Inside the Black Box and joint architect of the national curriculum tests for 14-year-olds, as well as the administrative experience of the former assistant principal of King's college, London. A one-time rock musician who started teaching maths to pay for amplification equipment, Wiliam is also a skilled amateur builder: he and his wife have renovated a 17th-century manor house.

Professor Wiliam may regret moving from the American "can-do" attitude to the British "mustn't grumble." But there is one thing he is looking forward to: a decent curry. That's one thing he's never had in America, he says.

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