By your report, Chris Woodhead has rather too simply polarised the bad news and the good news of pastoral care. He fails to draw attention to school versions other than the "all muddle and cuddle" and his preferred "instil fortitude through cold showers".
There's the discipline dustbin, worst cases of which were well described in the HMI report on exclusions, published by the Office for Standards in Education some months ago.
And there are the more connected pastoral and academic versions which nowadays include curriculum co-ordination and academic tutoring. Mr Woodhead's vision of the link between pastoral care and school learning seems very limited.
But at least the timing of his contribution is excellent. The National Association for Pastoral Care (NAPCE) has just published two brief documents which, thanks to a major educational charity, will be circulated to all secondary and middle schools soon. The first is Quality Review in Pastoral Care, which gives frameworks to help schools discuss the quality of their provision in terms other than OFSTED. The second is Pastoral Care and Governors which further outlines the goals and the distortions of pastoral care, and helps governors take a positive role.
NAPCE is also preparing resources in the key area of helping pupils learn about learning - but that might not interest those who are solely interested in narrow views of performance.
CHRIS WATKINS Chair, Publications committee NAPCE 52 Mercers Road London N19