Letters of the lore

26th October 2007 at 01:00

I hear we'll soon have some new initials to remember as the evolution of the FE quango scene continues apace.

The QIA - that's the Quality Improvement Agency - is about to become one with the CEL - that's the Centre for Excellence and Leadership.

A mole (filthy creatures by the way) tells me the two outfits have both been involved in a beauty contest for titilation of ministers to see who is the most delightful.

The big question is whether the charming Andrew Thomson, chief executive of the QIA, will be in charge of the new merged organisation, or whether very popular Lynn Sedgmore, his counterpart at the CEL, will end up being the one who wears the trousers.

It all comes after a period in which the further education world has given birth to an overlapping and increasingly baffling network of organisations - all seemingly responsible for quality - but between which the lines of responsibility are sometimes rather blurred.

The QIA was born when the LSDA (Learning and Skills Development Agency) divided in two - with the other half of that august organisation becoming the Learning and Skills Network.

Just to muddy the waters further, the LSDA in Northern Ireland still exists, leaving QIA, LSN and LSDANI.

Not that these bodies haven't achieved anything. But sadly, their inventiveness and talent has been quite hidden from public view thanks to their tendency, under gentle encouragement from Whitehall's spin merchants, to communicate with journalists through expensive PR consultants.

Whatever becomes of the QIA and LSN, it seems PR is one discipline for which Government money will always be available - and no doubt a press release will cast a pleasing hue over the matter shortly.

Rise row solved

Just solved the funding problem regarding English for speakers of other languages.

Instead of offering benefits and other financial incentives to encourage childbirth, let's spend the money on Esol provision. Unlike children, migrants can work as soon as they get here, and start paying tax.

The inevitably lower school intake can be used to reduce class sizes - therefore reducing the amount of mopping-up of 14-16 year olds which has to be done by colleges.

You never know, there might be enough cash left over for a lecturers' pay rise.

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