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'Lifetong' learning begins at the DFEE

Another deep-seated difference between Scottish and English education surfaced last week at the launch in Edinburgh of the European Year of Lifelong Learning (page 10). Whereas the Scottish Office adopts the term "lifelong", south of the border the favoured term appears to be "lifetime".

This is as significant a difference as that between the parents' charter in Scotland and the parent's charter in England. James Paice, the Department for Education and Employment minister who helped launch the event, became so hung up on the terminology that at one point he started to say "lifetong".

Edith Cresson, the European Commissioner who has put weight behind the lifelong year (which by the end of the proceedings had become "lifewide"), appeared to have absorbed in great detail the merits of the Scottish system between her arrival from Brussels the evening before and delivering her speech the next morning. Her original text was missing the references to Scottish vocational qualifications and the Scottish national record of achievement which she included when she spoke.

Step forward Gerry Wilson, secretary of the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department and an old Brussels hand. Wilson saw Cresson's speech and persuaded her to add the Scottish references which he wrote on her copy.

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