16th January 1998 at 00:00
After months of alarming creaking and shuddering, the mighty Socialist Educational Association has finally split. General secretary Graham Lane has had enough. Not only is he refusing to stand yet again for the post, but he is also debating whether to renew his membership after the end of March.

"I'm not going to spend my own money to travel round the country and be insulted," says Mr Lane cheerfully, adding: "It's been a real culture shock. I've never known anything like the sheer viciousness of what's been going on."

At the root of the current turmoil in the 50-year-old organisation, according to Mr Lane, is a debate within its executive as to its purpose.

"Most of the executive believe in 'accepting Labour party policy' which is part of the SEA's constitution agreed, I understand, in 1926... Unfortunately a minority of the executive have a different interpretation," he writes in the current newsletter.

He adds that a recent resolution wanted the SEA to become an independent agenda-setting organisation, while others have attacked decisions by David Blunkett and Steve Byers - both members willing to discuss education policy with SEA representatives. "Public pronouncements then by the SEA criticising that policy are not an option that can be entered into without grave consequences. Criticism in private is a different matter."

After months of agonising over the decision, Mr Lane now plans to hang around only long enough to see in his replacement.

Still, you win some, you lose some. Mr Lane - in his role as ubiquitous Voice of the Local Education Authorities - was invited on to Newsnight last week to fulminate about plans to introduce businesses into the running of education action zones.

Imagine his surprise, then, to be congratulated on his handling of the fearsome Jeremy Paxman (the interviewer who in the same week introduced football manager Kenny Dalgleish by asking rhetorically whether he was "a big girl's blouse" for not wanting to take Newcastle to Stevenage) by none other than deputy prime minister John Prescott and union boss Rodney Bickerstaffe.

"Apparently they watched the video of it together and said they were most impressed with the way I handled Jeremy Paxman," says Mr Lane happily.

Mind you, he wasn't a Paxman virgin, having been grilled by him a couple of times before, and has a few tips for others. "He's totally detached, does his homework and can't stand politicians avoiding questions. If you give him a straightforward answer that's fine.

"But then politicians who can't give an online message about their subjects deserve no sympathy from people."

We've had dreadful learner drivers, neighbours from Hell and managerial rows behind the scenes at the Royal Opera House. And the next target group for television's 15 minutes of notoriety is... teachers who play video games.

Until this week, Carborundum thought that the only dealings teachers were likely to have with such things was in confiscating them from pupils. But somewhere out there are teachers who spend their spare time honing their skills on such delights as Tomb Raider II, Doom and the exploits of Super Mario and his brothers. And if you're among them, Sky Television wants to hear from you.

It's "come on down" time for five teachers who are the intended stars of a week's worth of Games World in March. Oh, and an added bonus is that you can take up to 50 kids along as well to cheer you on, and have what contestant researcher David Lee describes as a "media experience". He is also keen to get in the groups of media studies pupils to watch filming, meet the producer and director - and make up numbers of nice young people in the audience - regardless of their teacher's prowess with a joystick.

Carborundum was, to say the least, puzzled as to why the programme-makers specifically wanted teachers. Was it to get some good live television out of their pupils' jeers?

Oh, no, said Mr Lee in a horrified fashion. "It wouldn't be any fun if they just kept on losing. We're having other specialist weeks as well - there's a celebrity one planned with stars from EastEnders on it." Carborundum, suspecting that the soap's thuggish Mitchell brothers might do rather well on the more violent games, mutters something non-committal.

"The programme goes out at breakfast time, followed by The Simpsons, and is therefore seen by a lot of children. We thought it might challenge their stereotypes of teachers," said Mr Lee brightly, adding: "and I thought it would be fun."

There is one other bit of information. Mr Lee was himself a teacher for two years at Bromsgrove School in Birmingham. "I taught Latin and ancient history but left to seek fame and fortune. But the two jobs are remarkably similar in all sorts of ways."

And now the dull bit. To take part, write to Games World Contestants (or Games World Education if you just want the media studies bit) at PO Box 91, London E14 9TN. And don't forget your anorak.

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