Jolly fun and games in Manchester this week. The Man Who Inspects Schools (and local authorities) For The Queen has reported on the city's education services.
While London hacks learned over the weekend that the document was going to materialise on Wednesday, council officials were convinced the original timetable - agreed with OFSTED last summer - stood, with publication ten days hence. Imagine their surprise, therefore, to read on Sunday that OFSTED was planning to publish unilaterally.
Their puzzlement was multiplied since under normal circumstances the authority is supposed to publish the report within 30 days of receiving it. So the Diary rang the Man Who Speaks for the Man Who Inspects Schools, etc, to ask what was going on.
"The timetable had June 29 as the time that the report was going to be issued to the local authority. That date hasn't been substantially altered.
"But under legislation - section 39(4) in the 1997 act Her Majesty's Chief Inspector may arrange for any report to be published in such manner as he thinks appropriate."
So why had he felt it appropriate? Sadly, the spokesman felt unable to opine on such matters. And why was Manchester apparently unaware of the new arrangement? "I think you will find certain people there did know."