A Grand bust-up

October 1, 2004

Never mind the hunting row, fur was flying inside the so-called "TonyTown" Brighton conference security zone at a fringe meeting on Mike Tomlinson's A-level reforms, hosted by the Association of Colleges. Sharing a platform at the Grand Hotel with Tomlinson was Alan Smithers of Buckingham University, who received boos from an audience of committed college educationists when he argued that Tomlinson's reforms were a "massive distraction" from the core issues of high-school dropouts and the shameful lack of basic skills of Britain's young. But it was an exasperated Tomlinson who dished out the most ire, accusing Smithers of failing to read his interim reports and ostentatiously groaning at almost every utterance.

"I don't know whether to separate them or get out of their way," said Michael White, political editor of The Guardian and chair of the debate.


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