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Less than firm on the foundations

At the Department for Education and Skills, top mandarin David Bell is said to be going around spreading mockery about Staying Ahead, one of his predecessor David Normington's pet projects. The initiative was described in the 2004 departmental report as "the Department's change programme, aimed to improve the way the department delivers its outcomes". "What does it mean?" wails Mr Bell. "And how do we measure it?"

Still on the DfES, a telephone conversation relayed from the TES newsroom went as follows: TES reporter (brightly): "Has the review of the foundation stage been released yet?"

DfES press officer (nervously): "The foundation stage of what? Is that higher education?"

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