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Dialogue in the corridors of power

Lucy Hodges' profile on Michael Bichard (TES, January 12) could be read as implying that the new permanent secretary at the Department for Education and Employment was inheriting a fossilised organisation previously led by a traditionally remote mandarin. That would be very far from the truth.

Each permanent secretary brings his own particular skills to the job, but there is no doubt that the education service owes Sir Tim Lankester a tremendous debt for opening up the corridors of dialogue, particularly with local education authorities.

During the period of Sir Tim's leadership, the style of the then Department for Education changed markedly - and most would argue for the better. The concept of partnership which Michael Bichard sees as the key to the future was well and truly reawakened by his predecessor.

KEITH ANDERSON

Chairman

Standing Conference of Chief Education Officers

Shire Hall

Gloucester

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