2nd January 1998 at 00:00
January once more, and the horror of making the remaining pennies in the budget stretch until April is once more a pressing problem. Still, worry not: a publication called Schools Funding Update has a top tip.

"If you live in an area which could offer some holiday attractions then you might have an underused money-raising facility. Your school grounds could be used for a caravan rally with little staff input from yourselves."

The pamphlet suggests that organisations such as the Caravan Club have limited exemption from planning rules and that, providing the neighbours don't object, hiring out the footy field can be an easy way of raising a couple of hundred quid. Providing, that is, you haven't (a) sold it off to Tesco or (b) hired it out for car boot sales every weekend until the millennium.

To make money, you'll need: adequate road access, a flat field, a supply of drinking water "and disposal facilities for both grey dirty water and sewage. Schools are usually useful in this respect as it is possible to open manholes to create disposal points rather than dig seepage pits." So no need for trenches between the goalposts, then.

Carborundum consulted John Sutton, the general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association and himself a keen caravanner, on whether he would fancy rallying on school fields.

"Well, it would be in the summer when there were no children about," he said cheerfully. "The Caravan Club runs rallies on a number of sites including a racecourse which are quite heavily patronised. That's not very different to a school."

But Mr Sutton - who will retire later this year to spend more time with his caravan - can suggest other ways in which enterprising schools can cheer up the bursar. "I know of one school in an Australian farming community which bought three or four calves and persuaded the parents to run them in their herds and then sell them at market. That's a great way to make money." But probably not in 1998 no-beef-on-the-bone Britain.

Should the Government's qualifications quango be considering the creation of a new vocational qualification for 1998, Carborundum has a suggestion: the subject should be constructive leaking (nothing to do with plumbing) and the Department for Education and Employment is the ideal ministry of example.

Just before Christmas, you may recall, Education Secretary David Blunkett earned himself some most positive media coverage when a memo he penned to the Prime Minister (and copied to just about everyone else) criticising proposals to tamper with disability benefits mysteriously found its way into the Sunday Telegraph (and just about every other newspaper). Mr Blunkett - himself blind - then spent the day broadcasting news of his loyalty to the Cabinet on the nation's radio and television networks, managing to come across as both decent and principled.

The affair rang a few bells with Carborundum. Sure enough the reign of Gillian Shephard, Mr Blunkett's Tory predecessor, was distinguished by not one, not two, but three such leaks.

The first, admittedly, occurred when she was employment secretary to then education secretary John Patten, and wrote to him offering to help with the battle over testing by outlawing the planned boycott by the teacher unions. This letter appeared, most mysteriously, in the teachers' pigeonholes of a school in her Norfolk constituency.

Leak two featured a missive from Mrs S to David Hunt, the chairman of the Cabinet committee dealing with education spending, and warned that job losses, bigger classes and "a renewed battle with teachers" would be inevitable unless more cash were forthcoming. This time the letter arrived at The TES, in time-honoured fashion, in a plain brown envelope. And leak three came nine months later, with another Mrs Shephard letter warning that the Government was "politically exposed" on education, and delivering an oblique warning on opting out.

While the Diary does not for one second believe that there is any connection between the Blunkett leak and the Shephard leaks - nor that the politicians themselves were involved - it is certainly a fascinating coincidence. And we're looking forward to receiving the next plain brown envelope at Chateau Carborundum, please.

Cold weather can be character-forming, as pupils at one Derbyshire school know only too well.

Swanwick Hall School has sent out a stern reminder in its weekly newsletter of strict regulations concerning the wearing of hats in cold weather. In short, hats are out.

Teachers' hearts thaw a little if it becomes "really cold (ie below freezing)", in which case "hats (may) be worn coming to school or going home." Oh, and woolly hats are OK (the kind your gran knits for you with a pom-pom on top are presumably the most acceptable) but caps are not.

In any event, pupils must remove their woolly hats (not caps) from their heads and expose their little ears to the wind chill factor for the final sub-zero dash onto campus. The newsletter adds sternly: "Hats should not be worn at all near the school buildings."

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