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Nepotism just isn't what it used to be

Since the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg voiced his far-fetched plans to rid the business world of the "old school tie" network, the issue of privilege has become a hot topic. Even before the start of her ill-advised stint in the jungle, Tory MP Nadine Dorries came in for some stinging criticism after hiring her daughter Philippa as her office manager.

FErret can't help but feel sorry for the poor offspring of Mad Nad - on many levels. But surely as a caring parent it isn't the worst thing in the world to give one's child a leg up on the career ladder? A report published last week by the Association of Colleges reveals that there is indeed a fate worse than being gift-wrapped a job by a well-meaning mother: having a parent who wouldn't employ you at all.

Yes, 11 per cent of the parents surveyed by the AoC confessed that they wouldn't give a job to their own child. The most common reasons cited by the disloyal dads and malevolent mums were that their child was not "work-ready", would not be able to get their work done in time, lacked general motivation or was, quite simply, bone idle.

But while Philippa Dorries is seemingly not guilty of any of these offences, her mum undoubtedly is. After abandoning her day job to swan off to the other side of the world and munch insects alongside Z-list celebrities, FErret wouldn't even give her an interview.

What a difference a day makes for funding

When is a year not a year? When you're the Skills Funding Agency, it would seem. The decision to ensure that apprenticeships for 16- to 18-year-olds last at least a year has been widely welcomed. But toss those Gregorian calendars away: as far as the SFA is concerned, a year is not 365 days. It's 366.

If you're feeling confused, the Information Authority - which governs the collection and use of FE data - can explain. "Apprentices must be in learning for at least 365 days. This means that for a 16- to 18-year-old apprentice the minimum period on the apprenticeship must be 366 days." Got that? Good. Because if you're offering an apprenticeship that lasts a measly 365 days, you won't receive any funding at all.

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