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Testing time for Tomlinson

The Government has been cagey about Sir Mike Tomlinson's attempt to put vocational and academic qualifications on the same footing.

When Charles Clarke, the then education secretary, responded to the Tomlinson report in October, he spoke of its implications for the vocational-academic split.

But he gave no insight into whether the Government shared Sir Mike's opinion.

He did say, however, that he hoped the Government could "drive out the anti-industrial emphasis in our education system".

Mr Clarke told the House of Commons that ministers would judge, in the white paper, the Tomlinson recommendations using five tests.

These were: whether it would stretch the most able pupils, whether it would improve vocational courses, whether it would prepare all young people for employment, whether it would reduce assessment and whether it would reduce drop-out rates by encouraging teenagers to stay on in education.

Mr Clarke said the proposals gave him the chance to consider "far-reaching reform for decades to come".

"It is a great opportunity, but with the opportunity comes the heavy responsibility to turn Mike Tomlinson's vision . . . into a practical reality," he said.

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