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Children's champs look like chumps

The great unwritten rule of show business is never work with children or animals. But should we turn that advice on its head? "Children and animals, never work with adults in show business."

Whichever way round it is, the conference of Confed, the senior education officers' association, decided to ignore all wisdom and focus discussions last week on what they could do to really listen to teenagers or, as they put it, be "Champions of Children".

Close attention (or was it condescension?) was paid to the two teenagers from Lewisham on the panel. At the end, Hampshire's chief education officer Andrew Seber elaborately praised the contributions of "Stephanie", a 16-year-old speaker from Crossways academy.

Eventually, it got too much for the youngster. "Actually, my name's Sapphire," she corrected. Her full name is Sapphire-Joy Moore-Findlay, surely unforgettable even for a chief education officer.

Later on, asked to sum up the conference Liam Webber, 16, of Forest Hill school, broke the ice. "I thought it was quite I erm I long," he told the education directors. "I kept drifting off... Then I looked round and saw a couple of adults drifting off as well."

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