1st September 1995 at 01:00
It's decision time in Quango Quango Land, where two of the more noted right-wing luminaries and upholders of the Christian faith are coming to the end of their term on the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

So it's farewell to John Marks, scourge of the '60s and all its works. And goodbye John Burn, principal of Emmanuel College, Gateshead, and a leading light in the league of muscular evangelists that is the Christian Institute. (Both are due to end their stints before their colleagues thanks to their previous involvement with the SCAA forebears, the National Curriculum Council and the School Examination and Assessment Council.) Which way, then, blows the wind of education now that Baroness Blatch is but a memory? Will they be reappointed? Or will figures of a similar mien be found to take their place?

On the other side of the great divide, the National Council for Vocational Qualifications could prove an interesting source of alternative employment for the traditionalist experts, with some of its own council members due for replacement and the Department apparently keen to bring the two worlds ever closer.

Concern in the Labour Party where the shadow cabinet elections loom. As this autumn's vote is likely to determine the shape of the next Labour government, should it come to pass, the stakes are high. Particularly for shadow employment secretary Harriet Harman, who has effectively been abolished thanks to the cunning disappearance of the Employment Department.

So, where to re-erect la Harman, a leading Blair ally who was at one time thought of as a hot prospect for education? Word has it that she favours an economic ministry of some description, which is very sensible of her as David Blunkett would be near impossible to dislodge. His strong Metropolitan credentials are reckoned to be a major advantage in calming Labour's educational troubles. A task which Ms Harman, with a child of her own at the grant-maintained London Oratory, may have found more troublesome.

Alarming reading for staff at the failing Hackney Downs Comprehensive , who await with trepidation the arrival next term of the first Government "hit squad".

The handy biographies sent out by the Department for Education include a reference to one Joan Farrelly, secretary to the "squad", aka the North-East London Education Association.

"Ms Farrelly is the recently retired chief inspector of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham," explains the user-friendly brief from the press office.

"She is experienced in handling failing schools having worked on the action plans for St Mark's School (closing this summer)."

Consternation at the Daily Mirror where the fax is flooded with outstanding GCSE results from publicity-hungry schools . . . many of which have unfortunately failed to include their name.

Stonewalling for Britain, the always robust Girls School Association has let the cat out of the bag.

They were accused of stonewalling by Pamela Robinson and Alan Smithers, who published a recent report on the achievements of co-educational schools. The academics from Manchester University felt that, along with the Head Masters' Conference, the GSA had been less than co-operative - fearing perhaps an unwontedly favourable write-up for the mixed-sex enemy.

Accusations vehemently and quite properly denied of course. No controversy here.

But Carborundum has a letter from no less a figure than the vice-president of the GSA which casts the matter in a new and confusing light. "Dear Pamela, " it reads, "I am sorry about the delay in approving the proposed single-sexmixed school study. . . The politics refuse to go away." What can it mean?

To the Edinburgh Festival where our culture correspondent is intrigued by a dramatic re-working of George Orwell's Animal Farm. All very entertaining. The Stalinist animals bear more than a passing resemblance to the Tony Blair Bestiary. And when chief pig Napoleon chooses a school for his litter it is, naturally enough, Grunt-Maintained. As Napoleon would have said, all schools are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Bugs and pests have abounded in the recent long hot days, some of them large enough to worry governors at a Midlands primary school. "The swimming pool will be in service this summer," read the minutes of a recent meeting, obtained by The TES. "To overcome governors' and staff concerns, the gate has been increased in height and one or two gaps have been filled to prevent anorexic youths from squeezing between the uprights.

"There appears to be no limit to the ingenuity of our younger population. We have had to resort to applying 'sticky stuff' to the top of certain posts and the control-hut wall to prevent budding spidermen from climbing up and over the top."

The National Union of Teachers has, as is fitting, lodged a motion with the Trades Union Congress criticising the Government for its handling of public pay.

Ever anxious to stimulate debate, Britain's premier teaching union has also filed an amendment - to the same motion. As a spokesman from the TUC confirmed, this is somewhat, er, unusual.

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