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Charm offensive;Diary

GOOD to see Chris Woodhead is continuing his charm offensive with the teacher training departments of our universities, in that ever-playful hard-to-get way of his.

His latest teasing encounter comes over a conference planned for December in Edinburgh - a first-ever meeting of university education academics and inspectors from the four parts of the United Kingdom.

It's the result of the increasingly fruitful co-operation between universities and the Office for Standards in Education over the long-thorny issue of initial teacher-training inspections, which has generated years of bad feeling. The invitations have already gone out to universities and HMIs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for what promises to be a useful exchange of ideas and experience.

Alas, there will be a conspicuous absence. For while universities in all four countries are sending delegates, and HMIs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will all be present, their colleagues from OFSTED will not.

Why not? The answer is: the chief inspector has told them they can't go.

According to Chris, his staff simply don't have the time. None of them.

Bless them, they must work so hard.

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