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Now for a seasonal sound of silence

As Christmas approaches many a target-weary teacher will have been cheered by the touching presents they receive from their pupils.

Teachers are all-too-often blamed for the world's ills so it's good to be reminded that, when it comes to the people who really matter (the children), their efforts are still appreciated. In recent weeks there have been signs that ministers too, led by Tony Blair, have at last started to appreciate the good job teachers have done in raising classroom standards.

So perhaps it's time the Government showed its appreciation with a few Christmas pesents of its own - and not just a free course of vitamin pills or flu injections to ward off the impending supply-cover crisis.

Perhaps it could parcel up a few plane loads of Australian or South African teachers. Just what the hard-pressed schools of inner-London have always wanted.

For most teachers Christmas came early this year, with the gift-wrapped resignation of chief inspector Chris Woodhead. But to top that David Blunkett has now promised no ministerial statements from his team between Christmas and New Year. Now that's what we call a merry Christmas.

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