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And the winners are ...

The Association of Colleges (AoC) conference last week was littered with awards for students and colleges, but now let's honour the best performers of the event itself. FErret is proud to present the winners of the inaugural Pride of Conference Awards ...

The Werther's Original Award for intergenerational relations: Vince Cable for gushing over his "absolutely gorgeous" partner in the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special, Erin Boag, 32 years his junior and fresh from posing nude for Closer magazine.

The Woodward amp; Bernstein Award for investigative reporting: the British media, for making Cable's comment the most reported story of the conference.

The Foot-In-Mouth Award: host Kirsty Wark, who revealed AoC president Chris Morecroft had won 78 per cent of the vote, which the association had kept quiet to avoid embarrassing fellow nominee Allan Stewart from Selby College.

The Air Miles Award for the committed traveller: Michael Gove, who Mr Morecroft said had promised to visit Sheffield College after it emerged he had seen vocational institutions in China before getting around to visiting any general FE colleges in the UK as education secretary.

The Flattery-Will-Get-You-Everywhere Award: Lynne Sedgmore, 157 Group executive director, whose "question" to FE minister John Hayes was to thank him for not making more cuts.

The Golden Flip-Flop Award for the fastest policy reversal: Mr Hayes, who told the NUS that adults without skills should take loans for GCSE-level qualifications, then immediately told reporters that they would not, in fact, be eligible.

And special mention goes to David Collins, outgoing chief executive of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, who said of Mr Gove: "I find it very difficult to communicate with someone from another planet."

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