Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'A Mafia Hitman Would Have Come in Handy'

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'A Mafia Hitman Would Have Come in Handy'

Article excerpt

Sir David Collins, the outgoing FE commissioner, jokes that he was tempted to hire the mob to remove some of the 'obstacles' he faced during the area reviews process

After three years of college interventions and area reviews, outgoing FE commissioner Sir David Collins could be excused for describing himself as a little "demob happy" as he attended what was likely to be his last official engagement before retirement.

When he addressed the Westminster Education Forum last week, Sir David's opening speech was very much on-message, stressing the success of the area reviews process so far and the financial health of the sector.

So far, so predictable. But when it came to the subsequent Q&A session, the commissioner had no intention of holding back.

"What should be done to raise the standard of maths in schools?" he was asked. "Fine them!" he responded. "Transfer the money to FE. That would be a good headline. I am retiring in a week, I don't care any more."

And he didn't finish there. On the subject of learning languages, he said: "Foreign languages? Who wants to speak French?"

On the issues of university technical colleges and career colleges, he added: "Why did they exist in the first place? I can't tell you, because any college could run a UTC within the facilities and the activity that it does normally.

"Arguably, you have a situation where, if there is a problem in this country, we tend to look for a structural change solution and invent something new, when what is probably needed is a reconfiguration of what you've already got. …

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