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Tooned down;Diary

PROOF that New Labour's message about those trailblazing education action zones has circled the globe ... even if it isn't quite getting through at home.

Newcastle is just one of many which has had problems finding a director for its fearless, ground-breaking, innovative, etc zone. It has a tip-top man in place now, but only after advertising twice.

One high-quality international applicant was rejected out of hand - someone with management experience, used to nurturing the buds of growth and making things blossom, and with a tough line on standards - he knows one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.

Admittedly, he's a cider farmer from Tasmania, Australia, approaching retirement and with no adult experience of education. But why hold that against him?

Quite how he saw the advert is a mystery, though we gather he originally hailed from Newcastle and "wanted to put something back into the area". He's certainly tenacious - when he didn't make it on to the shortlist he complained.

The Diary calls it an opportunity lost.

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