Further Education: FErret

4th September 2009 at 01:00
Yachting heroes and Skelmersdale amp; Ormskirk College

No excuses

This column occasionally has cause to bemoan one or two minor flaws in the otherwise flawless machinery of further education, so it is a pleasure to acknowledge an unalloyed triumph.

FErret is not talking about Oaklands College student Michael Perham successfully becoming the youngest person ever to sail around the world single-handed, although as someone who struggles with the solo voyage each morning from his den to TES Towers he admits to a sneaking admiration.

No, it is time to acknowledge the real heroes in this inspiring tale: the teachers who managed to persuade the 17-year-old to hand in homework assignments for his Btec in sport from his yacht on the other side of the world.

Other lecturers must look on in awe as they recall the litany of excuses from students working in more hospitable circumstances. But the Hertfordshire teenager resisted the temptation to claim that the satellite phone had broken down or a giant squid had eaten his work. Congratulations all round.

Now you mention it .

It was just a few weeks ago that FErret was surprised to have to awaken his Department for Credit Where Credit Is Due and set them to work. Now they face their toughest case yet.

Who is to be thanked for Skelmersdale amp; Ormskirk College suddenly winning funding for its new campus? Until last week, it seemed to have been frozen out along with dozens of others.

Labour MP Rosie Cooper believes her high-level talks and petition were decisive. "I remained absolutely determined that Skelmersdale College and West Lancashire would get this much-needed funding," she said.

But the Learning and Skills Council says it decided to fund the college last year, it just didn't tell anyone. So is it a quango U-turn or an MP overzealous in claiming credit? Both seem so unlikely. FErret's crack team has not had such a challenge since John "No hosepipe bans!" Prescott boasted about the weather under Labour.

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