Jotter - Beware of sharp Benz

11th December 2009 at 00:00

We certainly started something. No sooner had former Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop referred to headteachers' BMWs in the car park of their conference hotel (TESS, November 27), than our office received a fax from Mercedes-Benz urging us to hire one of their models - cars, that is.

Its slogan, under an image of its sleek "C-Class Executive Special Edition", might have been a valedictory for the former minister as she struggled to survive her gaffe at the annual shindig of School Leaders Scotland: "Creating it was a defining moment. Driving it is another."

Hit and run

SLS was not the only organisation where car-bashing was the order of the day. After the education directors' conference - strangely, held in the same venue as SLS at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld - their general secretary John Stodter had to issue an appeal for witnesses. Apparently, a car had been damaged in the hotel grounds. We hope it did not belong to a headteacher.

Red sails into the sunset

Still with SLS, we reported a few weeks ago that Jim Conroy, the irrepressible dean of education at Glasgow University, told the conference that tabloids - or "red tops", as they are known in the trade - were banned in his faculty. This was on the grounds that "students could not educate if they were not educated themselves."

Just after his speech, Fiona Hyslop walked in wearing a red top.

Freudian slip

And still with School Leaders Scotland. It took one of the The Herald newspaper's writers to dub its esteemed heidie Ken Cunningham as "chief of School Leavers Scotland". But given the number of his colleagues of advanced years being offered deals, maybe the paper meant it. And was it fate that the Glasgow exhibition centre was playing host to a retirement show at the time?

Slide rule

Not many Scottish college principals would belt out a couple of numbers accompanying themselves on the guitar, recite sensitive poetry and deliver a lecture on the "post-modern" generation - all at the same time.

But Sandy Shugart - Dr Sanford C Shugart, to be precise - is not Scottish. He is president of Valencia Community College in Florida, and is probably not your average America principal either.

He certainly made an unusual appearance at the annual conference of Scotland's Colleges, and was not interested in flattery. "I don't like slides, although I used to do death by Power-Point," he observed. "But since there are a few principals in the room, I've a few slides to provide the illusion of content."

We think he lost some of his audience at that point.

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