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Please welcome Hilda the HiLTA (higher level teaching assistant) whose proposed specification can be downloaded from: Hilda's design can still be tweaked, so you have until July 7 to return your suggestions, at: The Department for Education and Skills and the Teacher Training Agency have combined forces to create Hilda's blueprint, which is reminiscent of the standards for qualified teachers. Professional values and practice, knowledge and understanding, and teaching and learning activities are the three main headings. Beneath them are 24 standards that Hilda must achieve before being deployed in a school.

* Few education initiatives have been given duller titles than the Connexions Customer Information System. School or college managers with a 14-19 brief might be inclined to ask a technically-minded colleague to check it out and then get on with the Big Picture. But my reading of the evaluation study of pilot projects on Merseyside and the West Country has left me feeling uneasy (see The report underlines the importance of a system that gathers all sorts of information about individuals via secure web links. On page 11 we read:

"While the wishes of those wanting to withhold permission need to be respected, the need for informed consent should not be seen as a barrier to progress." Does that ring any alarm bells?

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