8th February 2013 at 00:00

College goes all out for crowning achievement

In a move that, regrettably, will not overturn the unfair perception of the West Country as a backward place where people have to make their own entertainment, staff at Wiltshire College last week tried to break the world record for the number of people wearing paper hats.

The fact that such a record exists is inane enough - the previous holder was Aisin Aw, a Japanese company that makes car transmissions and navigation systems, and also encouraged 972 of its employees, their relatives and local residents to wear paper hats. But why did Wiltshire choose this record? Was it in homage to the party hats they wear at the Department for Education when deciding what to cut?

Apparently it makes sense because, er, the hats are made of recycled paper and... help us out, principal Di Dale: "Recycling is an important part of the college's commitment to sustainability and the environment, and this event supports the key message of reduce, reuse and recycle."

Right. But not wearing paper hats at all would support that key message even more, no?

Has DfE put FE out of sight and out of mind?

It has sometimes been argued that ever since higher education and FE were moved to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Education has forgotten all it knew about colleges.

Indeed, FErret's colleagues made a similar point last week, in reporting on numerous aspects of the new post-16 performance tables that end up underrating colleges' performance ("League tables favour 'school' A levels, colleges say", 1 February).

Naturally, the DfE rejected such a characterisation - and through its rejection, accidentally confirmed it. Our reporter listed a series of college objections to the way league tables are compiled, only to receive an answer that didn't mention colleges at all. Missing the point, the Department said: "We will be publishing other measures over the next few weeks and months so everybody has more information about what is happening in schools." So that's all right, then.

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