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Council sketch: finding that little 'something'

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If there was one word that dominated last week's special debate on education at the RIBA Council it was 'crisis', writes Ed Dorrell.

First off was presidential hopeful and education vicepresident Jack Pringle.He, like everyone else, agreed that 'something'needed to be done.And fast.

But what was this 'something' to be? Should the RIBA lead the march towards educational reform or should it fight the government by sticking up for the seven-year status quo?

There were times when it seemed there were more reasons for educational reform than there are members of council.And there are 70-odd of them.

Then came the onslaught.Three heads of schools turned up to give a presentation on where everything was going wrong.They certainly didn't pull any punches.

One was left with the impression that those charged with educating the next generation felt that heaping blame on the government wasn't satisfying enough.They wanted the RIBA to feel the full brunt of their frustration as well.

Cue the council's troublemakers.First up, Nigerian representative Femi Majekodunmi and then the scourge of the institute's conservatives, Chris Roche.With a certain inevitability these two were followed by any number of small practitioners, all happy to give their tuppence-worth.

Last from the floor was ³ber-troublemaker and past president Rod Hackney.Each clearly thought this was too good an opportunity to have a pop at recent policy to miss.

Then, predictable as ever, came the leadership.George Ferguson, former BDP boss Richard Saxon and Pringle jumped to their feet in turn and gave speeches littered with phrases like 'I couldn't agree more'and 'we must do something about it'.

But what was this 'something' that everyone agreed was so urgent? All the councillors seemed to think that whatever it was, it was very important.Yet, no one could quite put their finger on it.

So instead of isolating the 'something'and acting on it post-haste, all present agreed that the debate was a great success and adjourned for lunch.

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