FErret - Insight into Sion's spin cycle
Good luck to Sion Simon, the new skills minister, who really will have to turn on the charm at the Association of Colleges' conference next week.
Such events tend to rely on the suppression of mutual loathing to be a success, but I fear Mr Simon will have to suppress more than most.
As you may know, he is something of a writer as well as being a politician - a common combination, but also a difficult one to pull off because the craft of writing a good newspaper comment does not always sit well with the more subtle art of political diplomacy.
For those of you heading to Birmingham, here's a quick guide to Sion's views on education, which might come in handy if you find yourself hobnobbing with him in the conference bar.
From the News of the World, 2000:
"The line that what's good for teachers is also good for pupils is as much an insult to our intelligence as it is to our children's education. What's good for teachers is limited responsibilities and no performance evaluation. What's good for children is dedicated time every day learning the three Rs."
On A-level results:
"It's a serious case of extracting the you-know-what. Because it is absolutely obvious to everyone . that A-level-standard education is no better now than 20 years ago. If anything, most people would say it was worse. We're all used to politicians talking rubbish. That's not what bothers me. It's the sheer insulting arrogance of this particular piece of nonsense that sends my spin-dryer into overdrive."
From The Spectator, 2001
On learning: "What sane child could enjoy memorising the structures of the isotopes of carbon when they could be secretly drinking cider in the park or, even better, sitting on the wall outside the chip shop?"