Let's hope Leitch is a success

8th December 2006 at 00:00

The publication of Lord Leitch's review was brought forward to Tuesday, I hear, because the Government wanted to make sure all its ministers' eyes were focused on Iraq later in the week.

Even if further education is Leitched whiter than white, the stains on the Government's reputation when it comes to Iraq will be hard to remove. Of course, neither the Government's performance in FE nor its record in Iraq will be anything to worry about come election time. Politics has nothing to do with such matters as life and death, integrity or education.

As that nice shiny Kennedy family taught us, there are only two rules you need to remember in politics: don't drive over narrow bridges when you're drunk; and the man with the brightest teeth always wins. But what will Leitch mean to those of us who concern ourselves with FE? The landscape is already graced with the statues of the great and the good, whose voices have been heard and in some cases largely forgotten following the publication of historic reports which were destined to change the world as we know it.

They were Sir George Sweeney, Sir Andrew Foster, Sir Mike Tomlinson - amiable, imaginative and inspiring people - and now Lord Leitch.

In fact, there's hardly anyone left who has not been commissioned to chair an enquiry into post-16 education and, frankly, I'm surprised to have been overlooked. The FErret report would be the most important - just like all those before it.

Most of Tomlinson's vision was famously dropped within 24 hours of his eagerly-awaited pronouncements. That was because the middle classes, represented on earth by the Daily Mail, did not like the idea of losing their beloved A-levels. I reckon lucky Leitch has the edge on poor old Tomlinson though - and it's all thanks to Iraq distracting the world's attention.

As it is, the Daily Mail hasn't got the foggiest idea what FE is. Even the rest of the posh end of Fleet Street thinks a college is Eton, Harrow, Lancing or whereever it is little Jemima has been put down for from September.

With Iraq back in the headlines, there's even less chance that Leitch will get any attention outside the education press.

Which is how we like it. It might just mean Leitch's pronouncements survive long enough not to be scuppered before they have been properly digested.

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