Teeny-weeny tycoons

15th October 2004 at 01:00
We know what schools are supposed to learn from business, but it is perhaps more surprising to discover what one company has learnt from schools.

Michael Kearns of Bellshill-based uxL, whose innovative "ideas trail pack" has been going down well with the weans, has been passing on pupils' ideas to multinational bosses in the hope of stimulating their approach to enterprise.

Kearns is never happier than when telling tycoons that seven-year-olds in schools have come up with better ideas than they have. "It really makes them think!" he says.

He has also noted that sessions his company has done with heidies have shown that they fall into two categories. "The primary heads are full of enthusiasm and ideas flow like nobody's business, but the secondary heads are much more reserved and careful in what they say."


We are grateful to Malcolm Barron of Careers Scotland for a graphic illustration of the scale of the challenges facing schools.

At the recent enterprise in education conference in Aberdeen, Barron told how the Good Lord came upon a man weeping by the roadside. "I'm blind and I've never been able to see the sunrise," he explained, whereupon the Lord reached out and restored his sight.

Moving on, he encountered a man who was weeping because he could not walk and had never been able to run through the fields - and, lo, he was duly healed.

Another man wept as he revealed himself to be a headteacher. Upon enquiring as to the cause of his grief, the Lord was told: "They've given me the science strategy, the modern languages strategy and now we've got this enterprise in education strategy" - at which point the Good Lord sat down and wept with him.


As the row about shared campuses rumbles on, a teacher from the long-closed St Leonard's Secondary in Glasgow's Easterhouse recalls that the presence of very few non-Catholic staff led to the concept of the "Protestant cup of tea" coming into use in the ladies' staffroom.

As she explained: "Two of the staff were Scottish Protestants - we were very much closer to our Irish immigrant, Catholic roots in those days - and they poured out less than full cups of tea which we attributed to their Scottish meanness, and we would appeal to them, in the best of humour, not to pour 'a Protestant cup of tea'."

If the practice is still prevalent, perhaps it is the result of all those shared staffrooms in joint campuses. Surprisingly, we haven't yet encountered the issue in the Catholic Church's, er, protestations on the matter.


We are grateful to our sister journal The Times for the revelation that Kenneth Tynan, the controversial theatre critic, was "born the illegitimate son of a former mayor of Warrington, Sir Peter Peacock, a man who had led a double life for 20 years".

Difficult to believe, really.


Over the Tay to Dundee for the annual college love-in, aka the annual meet of the Scottish Further Education Funding Council. It used to be the annual greet as well, but the colleges have more money nowadays so that has stemmed the flow - of tears, not cash.

In previous years, the usual suspects have enlivened proceedings, aka the fellas (usually) from the FELA, the Further Education Lecturers'

Association. Alas, none of the soap opera characters showed this year.

Perhaps the Tay is a bridge too far.

Not that there weren't lively moments, and we were suitably grateful to Clive Murray from Elgin - yes, a Murray from Moray - who has been relentlessly pursuing the funding council over its alleged "defamation" of a former board member at Moray College.

In the absence of the fellas handing out the usual hard-hitting leftie literature, Murray of Moray obliged and distributed his own, in language no less strong. Having effectively told council chair Esther Roberton that she wasn't fit to hold office and asked her to resign, the genial Murray then demanded to know about the council's "openness and transparency" policy.

"We don't want to get into that tonight," Roberton told him without a hint of irony.

That's what we call a good night out.


The much-awaited second edition of BRIeFING, HMI's very own newsletter, has at last hit the cyberwaves. As ever, the inspectorate is opening itself up to constructive criticism - in the spirit of self and community evaluation.

HMI boss Graham Donaldson promises: "All your comments and views are welcome and valued. I look forward to reading them."

Aye, right. Only if your school has been inspected, we suspect.

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