Education Diary: Letter asks retired teachers to return to teaching

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The Independent Online

Last week, we reported that teachers who had retired due to stress had been issued with a rosy letter from the Training and Development Agency, saying how nice schools were and would they please, please come back? Now even John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has been collared. "Come back to teaching," entreats the letter received at casa Dunford. Have all the union general secretaries received the letter? Isn't it rather a machiavellian tactic to deal with the criticisms at the conferences. Future union bosses be warned: say anything out of line and you'll be asked to return to a life of verbal abuse, chair-throwings and staffroom politics.

* The NUT has just voted for a one-day strike over pay and wants to hold a rally in central London on the same day. But for the latter, it has to get permission from the Metropolitan Police. In the past, the Met has been curmudgeonly on the subject. But this year, the NUT delegation was welcomed with open arms. "So you'll want to head down Fleet Street, take a nice little detour down Savoy Street, and then of course you'll want to march on Downing Street," said the obliging copper. The boys in blue, you see, are rather more sensitive to matters of pay now that they have their own salary problems. If they police five or six rallies, they can show that the Government has actually spent more on policing these demos than they would have spent giving the Peelers the recommended pay rise. If only the teachers were so savvy...

* The new 'Times Higher', which replaced the old THES, has won critical acclaim for its modern, sleek look and for its feature-led approach, not to mention the minimalist title, THE. But the redesign has left international news junkies gagging for their regular fix of news from around the world. Step forward University World News (, "the global window on higher education", which launched its website last year and already has 8-10,000 subscribers reading avidly about higher education in every continent of the world. UWN has just launched a special African edition sponsored by the Ford Foundation in South Africa and is hoping to expand into south Asia with another special edition. "We started it because of the decline in coverage," says Diane Spencer, the managing director and a former senior journalist at The Times Educational Supplement. "We spotted a gap in the market." Articles are written by former THES stringers, including Geoff Maslen in Australia and Karen MacGregor in Cape Town, and many other contributors.

* News just in: 60 per cent of 13- to16-year-olds spend the hours between 4pm and 6pm getting bored. More than two-thirds of them want more after-school clubs, according to research commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The other third are just annoyed that Neighbours was sold to Five.

* Did you know that you can do a level 2 City & Guilds course in parking attending? Well, apparently nobody else did either. Last year, a grand total of zero 14- to 19-year-olds took the qualification, which is just one of a raft of courses set to come under the banner of the new diploma. Actually, no, this one will probably just be scrapped. Unfortunately, you might have just missed your last chance to become a parking attendant.