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FErret

A bit flaming cynical

Time to warm the hands on the bonfire of the quangos, FErret supposes. How are things going since Sir Andrew Foster protested about the "galaxy" of oversight bodies in FE?

Well, the regional development agencies are for the chop. And Becta, although that was more a support agency than an oversight body for colleges. Remploy is at risk: good riddance to the red tape of, er, training disabled people for work and a more independent life.

And that's that. In all, the galaxy of bodies involved in inspection has fallen from 18 to 14, and this Government is only responsible for one of those, possibly two if the Young People's Learning Agency also falls. It's more of a candle than a bonfire.

Still, only a cynic would say that the Government has ducked the really hard work of genuinely streamlining FE in favour of picking off cheap and harmless organisations such as the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group. And FErret is that cynic.

Enter the dragons

A keen student of the BBC's Dragons' Den, FErret has noticed it often takes one of the show's investors to stick its scaly neck out before the others follow suit. And so it has happened in FE, which may soon have more dragons than a medieval treasure map.

Peter Jones has already been scattering his National Enterprise Academies around the country like dragons' teeth, ready to grow into a skeleton army to do his entrepreneurial bidding.

Next thing we know, fellow dragon Theo Paphitis is in on the act, chairing a debate on skills in the UK for WorldSkills 2011 - the skills "Olympics", with less doping - next month. And why not? Who knows more about education than the man who sells all the pencil cases?

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