Leaky argument

25th February 2005 at 00:00
Oh dear! Where would we be if the country had to rely on university "experts" such as Dennis Hayes for accurate information about plumbing? Probably having fatal accidents and straining the emergency services. The level of ignorance in his article ("The real skill that's missing is thinking", FE Focus, February 4) borders on the ludicrous - or is he speaking tongue-in-cheek? If so, the danger is that some will think this rubbish is true, because Mr Hayes is head of post-compulsory education at a university college.

If only plastic pipes installed by amateurs were the answer, as he suggests. Because our plumbing courses have been hugely oversubscribed for the past two years, it might take him four years to get to the head of the queue to enrol at the College of North West London - dubbed "the Cambridge of plumbing" because of the excellence of our provision. Once here, he would quickly learn that plastic is unsuitable for gas, compressed air, pressurised systems and practically everything else.

He damns the world of education by separating knowledge from skills. Many of his university professor friends may well have a personal view on plumbing, but at best it is ill-informed and at worst based on ignorance for which there is no excuse - especially as much of the funding going to Mr Hayes is to support research, something not much in evidence in his article.

Frank Horan Head of faculty of technology College of North West London

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