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Look before you plummet

As the Hutton enquiry has found already, facelessness is more becoming of civil servants than being caught with their trousers round their ankles.

Imagine, for instance, being outed as one of the mandarins responsible for the creation of the ill-fated Individual Learning Accounts scheme. Assuming none of the politicians is going to carry the can, how do you avoid losing your job?

But help is at hand. One of my spies tells me that the Department for Education and Skills has arranged a leadership seminar - to be led by the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Sir Ranulph gave some excellent advice during an interview in 2001, in which he explained how to avoid falling into a crevasse. He said: "One good tactic, if you're the leader, is to have others go ahead and watch them very closely so it's not you that actually falls into the holes."

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