13th November 2009 at 00:00
Paying the price and musical yoof

Paying the price

April 20, 2010. Never mind the Mayan apocalypse in 2012, this is when FE risks its own fiery oblivion as local authorities have to make their first payments to colleges under the new funding regime.

So we look for encouragement to John Freeman, director of the Department for Children, Schools and Families' React programme, charged with smoothing the handover. As he put it, soothingly, in a discussion on the funding system: "Across local authorities, there are very few people, if any, who understand the sort of things we've been talking about and which they need to understand in the coming years."

Yikes. But Mr Freeman said not to worry, since React has a swathe of initiatives to bring them up to speed between now and doomsday - and he pointed out that Parliament gets annoyed if they do too much preparation for something that is not yet law.

Of course, it also seems likely that very few people, if any, understand the funding system as it is and we may just muddle through more or less as before. But just in case, FErret will be stockpiling food and heading for the hills.

Musical yoof

Everyone knows that colleges are the safest of havens, but it's clear that at least one or two of the charming young people who attend them would happily stab you in the eye outside the confines of the knife arches.

Fortunately, a student from Burton College is here to fight the rising tide of concealed weapons and unintelligible slang heavily featuring the letter "z". That's right: 17-year-old Paul Syrstad has written an anti- gang musical. After all, nothing says "badman gangbangaz from the endz" quite like a song-and-dance routine.

We have to make allowances, though: his creativity is to be admired and Staffordshire is more likely to see shed burglaries than a stick-up of the re-up. But are even the thugs of Burton-upon-Trent likely to be cowed by a Sondheim and Elton John-influenced musical?

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