Diary

27th December 1996 at 00:00
The turkey and pudding have formed an amorphous mass in the bottom of the fridge and the Rennies have pride of place on the sideboard. Yes, Christmas is over and the New Year approaching fast: it must be time for Carborundum's Awards of 1996. We shan't be calling them Oscars since American lawyers got so heavy with the Government over describing Charter Mark winners and even the Chief Inspector's Favourite Schools by using the O-Word.

The Pupil Initiative Award goes to Tony Platinel, a GCSE history student at Forest Hill secondary school in the London borough of Newham, for the Second World War souvenir he took in to show his classmates - an unexploded phosphorus bomb. The school was closed for a day while the Army bomb team moved in, but headteacher Andy Richardson was upbeat about the whole event.

"I've told Tony there's no need to feel contrite - he was doing something he thought was positive - and not to worry in the slightest. He was just trying to provide something stimulating for his history class. And the police told me they had never seen a building evacuated so fast and quietly," he enthused.

Not even one tiny little downside? "Apparently once these things go up you can't put them out. They go whoosh. We've got a few portable classrooms which could do with burning down. Perhaps I should ask him to bring in another one."

The Prince Charles Award for Appalling Education Jargon: Hampshire's referring to lisping innocents barely out of nappies as "Pre-Year R" - ie, those in the year before reception class. Elsewhere, in a horribly Orwellian phrase, such infants are known as Year O.

The Duchess of York Prize for Holiday of the Year goes to Association for Colleges supremo Roger Ward for his South Downs Way walk . The walking might just have been bearable had not Roger and Mrs Roger been staying by night in youth hostels. In separate dorms. This, remember, is the man known for his black office fridge crammed with Pol Roger, hand-made shirts and gold ornamentation.

He said: "I went walking to get fit - it nearly killed me. I'll never do it again, I can tell you. Talk about how the other half live. Well, I can tell you that too. They live badly, really badly. There I was, 49, and thinking, well, it's a place for all ages. It's ****ing well not. There they were, 14 and 15 and saying : 'How many miles did you do today, mister? What? Only 22? We did 35. Come and play soccer, mister'. 'No,' I cried. 'No, I must put my feet up'."

The Jimmy Edwards Handlebar for Head of the Year: Chris Lowe of Prince William School, Oundle, after making stately progress around the classrooms with a visiting Duke of Gloucester. After the pair had spent some time in a drama class, one hulking teenager was prompted to enquire: "Please Miss, which one was the Duke?" Mr Lowe, who has taught at the school for a quarter of a century, explains; "I've told the teacher to send the kid to me so he can see what I look like."

The Max Clifford Cup for most astonishing statistics of the year goes to Northern Ireland's Industrial Development Board for the literature it produced to stimulate inward investment, apparently showing a remarkable 99 per cent of 16-year-olds in 1993-94 entered higher education. Then incredulity took over. Wasn't it customary for would-be university students to take A-levels or suchlike before going off at 18?

Ah, admitted the IDB, there appeared to be something amiss with the figures. Further investigation revealed that the original source had actually been referring to the number of 16-year-olds in further education - otherwise known as school or college. Another statistic, showing the staying-on rate, at 99 per cent, was higher than anywhere else in the UK turned out to include "some element of double counting". Eventually the IDB agreed to withdraw the factsheet for correction.

Best Redraft Award goes to the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority for its late decision not to send out with KS3 history papers the following ambassadorial quotation about the diplomatic skills of Louis XIV, whom trying to pin down was like "trying to grasp firmly a pair of well-oiled ivory balls".

Least Subtle Poaching Award goes to Nigel de Gruchy of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers for his letter to local organisers concerning Peter Smith of the rival Association of Teachers and Lecturers, who app-arently did not agree with Nigel's hard line on school discipline.

"Peter Smith needs to be pulled from his high horse," he wrote. "The defection of thousands of ATL members to the NASUWT would really hurt Peter Smith where it matters. WRITE TO OR HOLD MEETINGS WITH YOUR SCHOOL REPS AND ACTIVATE THEM TO CHALLENGE THE ATL RESPONSE. As many ATL members as possible must face the challenge that if they need support the ATL will not provide it, and they have the ATL General Secretary's word on that."

Challenged, Nigel gasped: "Oh my goodness me. You shouldn't have that letter. " Doesn't this mean he is poaching members from a rival union? "He's accused us of doing it for recruitment purposes. We've been condemned for committing the sin, so we might as well go ahead and commit the sin."

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