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FErret

Stuck in the pipeline

Lord Saville's inquiry into Bloody Sunday was delayed for years amid legal wrangling and government fear of the political fall-out. Professor Alison Wolf's review of vocational education has, FErret learns, been delayed for rather different reasons.

At a Qamp;A with Andy Walls, assistant director of skills at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, funding consultant Nick Linford asked about the progress of the review, which had been expected to produce an interim report before Christmas.

He was told: "She is in Italy writing it but had some plumbing difficulties." Yeah, and the dog ate my interim report, too.

The irony is that if the professor had followed a more vocational route through education, she might have been able to fix the plumbing herself.

Throwing stones

At a reception to mark the retirement of David Collins as chief executive of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), his chairwoman Ruth Silver paid him a generous tribute, but no one pretended that the relationship between these two big personalities wasn't occasionally combustible.

With three chief executives in the organisation's relatively short existence, one wag joked that the average life expectancy of an LSIS boss was lower than a tailgunner on a Lancaster bomber in the Second World War. New CEO Rob Wye managed to see the funny side.

Mr Collins recalled that this column has previously dubbed him the "moustachioed maverick", but Ms Silver remembered her first impression: his long hair and whiskers made him look like someone from the Grateful Dead.

"Working for you, Ruth, I sometimes felt I would be grateful to be dead," Mr Collins roared. He was joking, of course!

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