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FErret

In a lecture or on a stretcher, it's up to you

It takes a tough character to turn around a failing college. So it's no surprise if Reigate College principal Steve Oxlade wanted to sound as though he takes no prisoners when he announced that his college would be working to improve nearby Coulsdon Sixth Form College.

In some respects, he is being cautious, however. The proposal is sensible enough: the colleges will avoid a risky and potentially expensive merger at first by forming a federation. Only when Coulsdon improves will they merge. Mr Oxlade has a 19-point plan to improve things, where a more reckless man would have rounded up to 20.

But over student attendance he took an uncompromising stance. "It is just like Sainsbury's: if you don't attend you get sacked, as simple as that," he told the Croydon Advertiser, outlining his plan to kick out any students whose attendance fell below 90 per cent.

But Mr Oxlade takes things further than Sainsbury's ever would: "The policy at Reigate is you are either in hospital or in college. There is no in-between."

Blimey. Fancy some lunch? The policy in Reigate is: do you like hospital food?

Time to go home? The policy in Reigate is: you're going home in an ambulance. Still, it should keep everyone on their toes.

Reading material for the cultured thinker

Parliamentary terrier and phone-hacking nemesis Tom Watson appears to have Michael Gove in his sights, asking a series of curious questions about the education secretary over such matters as the floor space of his office.

Interestingly, TES cropped up in one question, which asked how much Mr Gove's private office spends on The New York Review of Books and this august publication.

It's probably nothing but, just in case, FErret would like it known that he is (a) innocent of any wrongdoing and (b) prepared to grass up his colleagues to get off the hook, should that be necessary. In the meantime, we hope that Mr Gove isn't spending too much time on book reviews when he could be reading more about the highbrow goings-on in FE.

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