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FErret

Cuts by another name.

"Efficiency" is a word that appeals to the euphemistic. So it was that the naturist magazine sought out by adolescents for nude pictures in those innocent, pre-internet days was named Health and Efficiency.

A similar dressing-up of the naked truth is involved in the term "efficiency saving", in which the word "saving" is used to mean "loss" - at least for those on the receiving end. Any efficiency achieved is largely incidental.

But principals have been undeterred by news that the extra money to avert a crisis in 16-19 funding this September comes with the demand for a 1 per cent funding reduction in the guise of "efficiency savings" and have got on with a shopping list of choice cuts: abolish quangos or slash their budgets; close small sixth forms and promote tertiary colleges; replace costly exam boards; ditch regional agencies; abandon the plethora of irrelevant kitemarks such as Investors in People.

And, realising that efficiency cuts both ways, they propose a reduction in civil servants, consultants and special advisers. Your move, Sir Humphrey.

Kicked into touch

A warm welcome to the chief executive of the National Apprenticeships Service (NAS), Simon Waugh, who, figuratively speaking, smashed a bottle against the hull of the new quango at Portcullis House last week.

The keen Spurs fan apologised to supporters of Chelsea and Barcelona for holding the launch on the night of the Champions League semi-final clash.

"When we planned this, we didn't think Chelsea would get this far," he explained pointedly.

Nevertheless, the mood was buoyant among the apprentices, who enjoyed an evening networking with providers, employers and NAS staff, several of whom had jumped ship from the Learning and Skills Council.

As Lord Young, the skills minister, put it: "Simon . is leading a happy team. Well, they haven't had time to become disillusioned yet." Not unless they are Chelsea fans, anyway.

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