Education: Diary: Lambert makes a u-turn on diplomas

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Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, may be against the Government's plans for the new diplomas now, but only last autumn he appeared happily on the same platform as Government ministers Ed Balls and Jim Knight to promote them. The three chaps appeared together to launch the Government's first three diplomas to get off the starting blocks. So why has Lambert decided now that the diplomas are no longer a good thing? Has he been got at? The Department for Curtains and Soft Furnishings is justified in feeling a bit peeved that the CBI is putting the knife in, particularly as business was given such a free hand in helping to design the new qualifications. So it is responding by issuing comments from all the organisations and luminaries in favour: the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, Dr Don Henderson, Imperial College Healthcare Trust and the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. This is turning into a right old ding-dong.

Top officials of the lecturers' union, the UCU, attended the university employers' annual party at the Globe Theatre last week, and all appeared to be sweetness and light until Bill Wakeham (right), chairman of the UCEA (the University & College Employers Association) and vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, got up to speak. At that point, Sally Hunt, the UCU's general secretary, and her colleagues, did a vanishing act. Was it because they objected to the employers' message that life on campus is rather good: shorter working week, more annual leave and better parental benefits than elsewhere in the public sector? Or did they simply have another gig they absolutely could not miss.

Leafing through the Ofsted report on the teaching of design and technology, our education editor alighted on the phrase "urban selective secondary modern". Anyone who knows their education history is aware that a secondary modern is selective in that it takes children who have been selected out, as in failed to be selected. So why use an adjective usually used to describe grammar schools? Presumably, the Ofsted writers were trying to explain to those too young to remember grammars and secondary moderns that the latter do not represent the full ability range as they take pupils who have failed the 11-plus exam. Is that why? We should be told.

Budding Yehudi Menuhins and Jacqueline du Prés are invited to apply to the National Children's Orchestra, which is holding auditions for children aged seven to 13 later this year. If successful, the young musicians will be trained to a high standard with children of a similar age. If they are old enough, they can travel to play their instruments before invited audiences. Later this year, NCO musicians will be touring Italy and playing at La Mortella, the estate created by Sir William Walton on the island of Ischia in the bay of Naples. Ring the NCO office on 01934 418 855 for an application form or email

If you are thinking of lying on your CV like Lee McQueen, the Apprentice winner, did, think again. Not all employers would be as forgiving as Sir Alan Sugar. Recruitment organisations advise that you should never lie and that you should keep your CV short and sweet. Always write it yourself, spell-check it and research the company you are applying to before sending it off.