28th August 2009 at 01:00
Potential X-Factor winner and Institute for Learning boss `shadows' teacher

Private factor of X

Think A-level results day was nerve-wracking? That's nothing compared to the ordeal of one Havering College student: singing in front of Simon Cowell.

Stacey Solomon, 19, a single mother studying performing arts, has been tipped as a potential X-Factor winner after wowing judges with an audition that has been described as "breathtaking".

But that's not how Mr Cowell put it. Master of the backhanded compliment that he is, he told her: "Stacey, I am rarely surprised, but that took me by surprise. You are really good."

Sadly, FErret is worried that Stacey is letting down those of us in the world of education. If she wins and starts on the road to fortune (once recording costs, tour costs, agent and manager's fees, and the odd bit of embezzlement have been deducted), she hinted she would use her prize money to get her 17-month-old son into private school.

"It would mean everything," she said. "I'd be able to get Zachary into a good school and get him all the things he needed."

What's wrong with putting him through a state school and letting FE colleges pick up the pieces at 16 like everybody else?

Back into the folding

Toni Fazaeli, boss of the Institute for Learning, spent a day at the chalkface last week, or would have done if anyone used chalk now. "Back at the interactive-face" doesn't sound right, somehow.

But her plan to shadow teacher educator Bex Ferriday at Cornwall College took an unexpected turn when, instead of being a shadowy observer, Ms Fazaeli was asked to take part in the class as a student.

Her teacher said she was a great sport and threw herself into the activities with enthusiasm. Rather more enthusiasm than skill when it came to being asked to make an origami rabbit. In the end, she had to have one- to-one support.

Ms Fazaeli admitted that it was not her strong suit. FErret hopes she will put some of her 30 hours a year of professional development into brushing up her paper-folding skills.

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