Meanwhile, an innovative model for school improvement arrives on the Diary's desk in the form of A Really Good School, a new novel (Seven Ply Yarns, pound;7.99) from former teacher and education writer David Gribble. It is a macabre tale of a head who turns to serial killing to maintain order in his school and ends with the student body invited to an assembly. "By the time the chapel bell started to ring , all the male staff except Mr Carter, Mr Nesbitt and Mr Brandon were lying behind ren guns along one side of the parade ground." Pupils gathered, "There was an explosion of noise. The ranks of children tottered and collapsed. They vanished like the water that runs away."
A trifle extreme? Mr Gribble writes that the pioneering head was extravagantly praised by the secretary of education and he was knighted in the New Year honours' list. "The immediate public reaction can be summed up in the single tabloid headline: 'Heroic head zaps sin school'."