Room at the top

25th January 2008 at 00:00

The effervescent Lynne Sedgmore, chief executive of the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL), was in fine form when I bumped into her the other day: she was no doubt looking forward to a new lease of life as her organisation is merged with the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA).

Like Andrew Thomson, chief executive of the agency, she is not applying for the new job, although I suspect neither of them, having been successful principals on their way up the greasy pole, will vanish from view.

Lynne, a Stoke-on-Trent girl made good (no offence to people still living in Stoke-on-Trent), lives in Surrey, where she was once principal of Guildford College.

Luckily, she has kept the accent, but in another respect she has gone native. A new Volvo is parked in the drive of Sedgmore Towers.

The question now is: who will be in charge of the new outfit to replace the centre and the agency? With the Learning and Skills Council having struggled to find a chief executive in the past, and the Association of Colleges having been without a boss since the departure of John Brennan in June, it seems there is a shortage of applicants for the top jobs in FE.

A job lot

Just in case you thought the unemployed have no voice in Parliament, a word of reassurance from Tony Benn, who spoke at the conference on adult education held last week by Niace, the adult education body, and sponsored by FE Focus.

Asked about the under-representation of the "workless", he responded: "Oh, but the House of Lords is full of them."

Of course, membership of the House of Commons is an actual job, which gave Mr Benn an open goal at which to strike.

As he pointed out, while ministers remind us of the importance of qualifications to improve the effectiveness of people in their jobs, being an MP, government minister or even Prime Minister is a career for which no qualifications are required.

So there we have it. A bunch of people not qualified for their jobs being scrutinised by a bunch of other people who haven't got a job at all.

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