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Leave silliness to birdsong

ALTHOUGH yet to hear the sound of the first cuckoo, it appears that a bird of indeterminate origin has been singing in your office. Your article "Talks over merger fail" (TES, FE Focus April 28) was a concoction of silly and inaccurate stories.

The merger talks between The People's College and Broxtowe College were at such an early stage, they had not been formally considered by the council's reorganisations committee which I chair. Therefore to claim that this had caused the council any embarrassment is nonsense. Currently about 40 colleges are in some form of merger discussions. Some turn into formal merger proposals: some do not. When colleges are ready to merge the council will consider the viability of any merger proposal. The success of recent college mergers suggests that the council's approach is working. Your report is therefore a perfect illustration of the adag "never let the facts get in the way of a good headline".

Likewise, the notion that "ministers are known to be unhappy" with the council's work on Curriculum 2000 cannot explain why, on the very day your article appeared, Education Secretary David Blunkett wrote to the council's chief executive David Melville to compliment the council on the work we have done to ensure funding for Curriculum 2000. Of course, this probably would not be a great surprise to many of your readers, because Mr Melville has made several public statements to the sector, fully reported in your columns, which make it clear that Curriculum 2000 will be fully funded.

These are exciting and important times for the further education sector - I had really hoped that silly stories had been left to the birds.

Lord Bryan Davies of Oldham

Chair

Further Education Funding Council

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