29th October 2010 at 01:00

A check too far

Confusion still reigns over child protection at the point where compulsory and adult education meet. The latest evidence: a group of over-50s with the University of the Third Age (U3A), who have been banned from holding classes in a school.

The volunteer group had run classes during school hours at All Saints Catholic College in Huddersfield for several years before Kirklees Council shut them down, saying they needed Criminal Records Bureau checks.

FErret wonders if elderly adult learners in the next classroom are really such a threat to the innocence of children. No one seems to mind that if any of these pupils joined the 100,000 or so who are in colleges from 14, they may well be free to mix with adults of entirely unknown provenance.

But still, it's not as if there's a recession on, so we might as well shovel money into the growing CRB-check industry for a box-ticking exercise that isn't even consistently applied. FErret blames the U3A spokesman, who said: "We're quite keen on inter-generational mixing."

Essex in bubbly game

The graduates of Plumpton College's winemaking courses are rightly celebrated (for a case or two, FErret will extol their virtues at length) but this may be a challenge too far, even for them.

Mother-of-three Jane Mohan, formerly a part-time student at the college, has bought a two-and-a-half acre vineyard in Coggeshall, Essex, and plans to double it in size to play "the French champagne houses at their own game".

Southern England's climate is said to be good for sparkling wine but even so, FErret can't see much chance of Moet et Chelmsford capturing the snob market that champagne has made its own.

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