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Numerical reverse

It was worth visiting the annual conclave of directors of education this year - for the official proceedings, of course (page six). And it's not every weekend we get to see Cardrona among the rolling Peeblesshire hills.

This year, however, the undoubted highlight was the after-dinner speech on Friday evening by Fraser Sanderson, director in Dumfries and Galloway.

Spurred on no doubt by his performance last year, his colleagues' choice was inspired. Sanderson had all the qualities required - wit, timing . . .

and he just happens to know a bit about education, which helps.

Tilting at windmills was done very gently. Sanderson revealed the struggle of one HMI to engage pupils in a class he was visiting. "Can anyone give me a number?"

"Thirty-six," came the first response, at which point the inspector wrote 63 on the board.

No reaction, so he asked for another number and got the reply "24" - so he wrote up 42.

Again there was no response so he tried for a final time.

"Fifty-five," said one lad, "and see if you can make an effing arse out of that."

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