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Co-incidence in the city of steel

Is the new lifelong learning sector skills council really all about giving colleges and other employers a voice in the training of teachers, or is it a tentacle of Whitehall? The skills council's chairman is John Hedger, formerly of the Department for Education and Skills, where he was once deputy secretary for schools and operations director responsible for training and enterprise councils and national training organisations.

Jonathan Mackey, on secondment from the DfES, is its project director.

As if that weren't enough ammunition for sceptics about the SSC's status as an employer-led organisation, DfES insiders say the organisation will be based in Sheffield, the Department's second home. And that's handy - because when the DfES carries out its share of the forthcoming civil service culling of staff, many of its employees will be looking for alternative employment - at organisations such as the SSC.

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