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Rule of ten;Diary

FRESH help with deconstructing those sometimes baffling Government statistics emerges at a briefing with Sir Claus Moser.

Sir Claus, you'll recall, is the man whose career is a peculiar example of dumbing down - he started in the 1960s generating the stats for the Robbins Report into higher education and has ended up chairing the Basic Skills Agency - forward to basics as it were, from high-flyers to the illiterate in 30 easy years.

Presenting the latest worrying statistics about levels of illiteracy last week, he was asked a question about teachers. He paused, "I think it is 10 per cent," he said carefully. Pause. "Actually, whenever I don't know a figure, I always say 10 per cent. It usually is 10 per cent." Tessa Blackstone, sitting beside him, helpfully reminded us: "Of course he did teach me statistics." (When she was a student at the LSE).

"So," mused Sir Claus, "if ever the Government comes out with a figure of 10 per cent ..."

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