Who's been writing in this little book?

23rd April 2004 at 01:00
Forget Sats. The ultimate test of the quality of a pupil's work has got to be the Heathrow Airport Test (Hat). Ambitious youngsters should simply make their way to Terminal 3, find a rubbish bin and balance their exercise book carefully on its rim. They can then return home and wait for their result.

That is the predicament nine-year-old Malcolm Kuti's reading diary found itself in on Monday morning. Malcolm, a pupil at Brindishe primary school in London, had accidentally dropped the book as his family rushed through the terminal the previous evening. Somebody had picked up the book and, without the heart to consign it instantly to the garbage, had rested it on the edge of the bin.

The examiner of the Hat is Detective Sergeant Chris Hobbs of Heathrow Airport police. We are not exactly sure what he does at Europe's busiest airport, but we get the distinct feeling it is pretty serious stuff dealing with some very naughty people.

"I picked up this little green book and I immediately saw it was a young person's exercise book," says DS Hobbs, who had a spell as a secondary teacher 20 years ago. ("What did you teach?" we asked. "Yobs, mainly," he replied.) "Now, if it had been a load of twaddle in there, it would have gone straight in the bin, but I could see it had an awful lot of writing of a very, very high standard. There were lots of illustrations and good comments from the teachers."

Who was this pupil? The full investigative might of one of Britain's elite police units was thrown behind the search and, within a day, Malcolm (whose surname was not in the diary) had been traced and his diary returned.

Malcolm has set the grade - can anyone else pass the Hat?

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