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Tomlinson plans will have their day

Thank you for page 23 of The TES, February 25. The combination of Judith Judd ("Where hunting matters more than kids") and John Dunford ("An A-level in stupidity") provided a powerful critique of the Government's short-sighted response to the Tomlinson report.

It seems clear now that the crucial decision to reject the essence of the report was made in Downing Street. There is no evidence of a serious discussion about its educational merits either within the Cabinet or the Labour party. However, we know that Tony Blair, should he win the coming election, does not intend to continue as leader for the full term of the next Parliament. Only a diehard pessimist would believe that the Government of his successor will be as resistant to so well-argued and so widely-supported a proposal for reform.

What, then, is to be done? Hand-wringing is nowhere near enough. The Tomlinson committee should regroup as an independent commission.

It has an array of enthusiastic and resourceful backers - schools and colleges with their governing bodies, teacher associations, the universities and local education authorities.

It will be tacitly supported by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, theOffice for Standards in Education and the Specialist Schools Trust. It can secure the means to proceed with examining groups to undertake the detailed planning and course development necessary to turn its proposals into reality.

Then, when Tony Blair moves on to save Africa or whatever, these well-considered changes can take effect to the enormous benefit of hundreds of thousands of school and college students.

A determined and confident profession will have shown what it can achieve independently, committed to the needs of young people over a longer timescale, and therefore much more profoundly than politicians driven by pre-election anxieties.

Martin Roberts

Former headteacher

The Cherwell

13-18 Upper School, Oxford (1981-2002)

29 Frenchay Road


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