22nd February 2013 at 00:00

Come not between the dragon and his wrath

Sir Michael Wilshaw is a man renowned for shooting from the hip, who once famously argued that heads could learn a thing or two from sharpshooter Clint Eastwood. But speaking about Ofsted's annual report in front of the Commons Education Select Committee last week - and defending his criticism of the FE sector - he described himself using an altogether more surprising analogy.

Discussing the role of Ofsted's new team of regional directors, Sir Michael said he will be acting like "King Lear, touring the country" and visiting his new band of sidekicks.

Of course, in Shakespeare's play, Lear - after disinheriting his loyal youngest daughter - leaves his kingdom to her two elder sisters. Lear's "tour" to visit them ends less than successfully, though: his daughters dismiss and deride him and he ends up humiliated, insane and, by the end, dead.

It's hard to believe that Ofsted's regional directors, with their #163;140,000-a-year salaries, will be in any mood to nobble their boss. But after Sir Michael yet again lambasted colleges that have "lost their way" on teaching and learning and have "got to improve quickly", he might be best advised to keep his sword and shield handy if he visits a college.

Hairdresser unstitches secrets of Roman style

While experts may agonise over how to break down the academic-vocational divide in education, an American hairdresser has managed to snip through it single-handedly with her own piece of research.

When she read that the received wisdom among historians was that Romans' elaborate hairdos were actually wigs, Baltimore stylist Janet Stephens wasn't convinced. After studying works of Roman literature, she discovered that a mistranslation was masking the fact that Roman women used a needle and thread to keep their own barnets in place.

Her research went on to be published in the Journal of Roman Archaeology. As editor John Humphrey put it: "No scholar who was not a hairdresser - in other words, no scholar - would have been able to write her paper."

Hairdressers 1, Academics 0.

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