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Offer that he couldn't refuse

THE chain of events which culminated in Chris Woodhead's resignation was set in motion more than a month ago when he began negotiating with the Daily Telegraph over taking up a role as an education commentator.

It did not take long for Education Secretary David Blunkett to discover what he was doing.

He called the chief inspector in to his office and was astonished to learn Mr Woodhead wanted to keep his job as chief inspector.

The Department for Education and Employment was reluctant to make a right-wing martyr of Mr Woodhead by sacking him but believed it would be unacceptable for him to hold both posts.

Mr Blunkett made it clear that he would be prepared to sack him as a last resort.

By last Tuesday rumours of Mr Woodhead's imminent departurewere flying around the Commons.

On Wednesday morning Mr Woodhead traded insults with MPs on the Commons education select committee.

Late that afternoon The TES asked Mr Blunkett's advisers whether Mr Woodhead would be allowed to work for the Telegraph while doing his existing job. They refused to comment but things were moving quickly.

On Wednesday evening Mr Blunkett spoke to the Prime Minsister - whose support for Mr Woodhead had seen him through previous storms. But Mr Blair agreed that, this time, he would have to go.

The chief inspector finally agreed to go on Thursday morning. He will effectively leave his post at the end of this month, and have three months' paid leave before he joins the Telegraph in the spring.

Sarah Cassidy

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