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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Profile: Mike Tomlinson
Mike Tomlinson
Who is the man chosen at short notice to head the independent inquiry into A-levels?

When the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, suddenly found herself in need of someone who would command universal trust and respect, she chose "a safe pair of hands" - the former chief inspector of England's schools and cricket fan Mike Tomlinson.

He was born in October 1942 and educated in Rotherham and Bournemouth.

He studied chemistry at Durham University and obtained his PGCE teaching certificate at Nottingham University, then taught in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire between 1965 and 1977.

Ofsted posts

In 1977 he spent time as the schools/industry liaison officer with the petrochemical company ICI.

He became a member of Her Majesty's Inspectorate in 1978 and was a senior figure in Ofsted since its establishment in September 1992.

His first post there was that of deputy director of inspection and - from 1995 - he was one of two directors of inspection.

He headed the team which went in to run the troubled Ridings School in Halifax a year later, when it was named the worst school in England.

Mr Tomlinson was involved in restoring the education system in Kuwait after the Gulf War and helped to develop a school inspection strategy in China and Mexico.

He was awarded the CBE in June 1997.

Suddenly at the top

He was named acting chief inspector at the head of Ofsted when Chris Woodhead resigned suddenly in November 2000.

He did have to start with an apology for having previously said of teachers: "I don't give a monkey's toss for them, all I care about is the children".

But his more co-operative approach to school inspections made him popular with teachers and their union representatives, many of whom had disliked what they saw as the antagonistic approach of Mr Woodhead.

His position was confirmed - and he was asked to stay on for a further five months beyond his original one-year contract.

But he was nobody's poodle - most noticeably, speaking out about the damaging effect that teacher shortages were having on the drive to raise standards, and about how England's national curriculum had been eroded.

'Retirement'

He finally retired from the job in April - moving to a new troubleshooting post at one of the country's most problematic education services.

He became chairman of the trust now running schools in the London Borough of Hackney.

It had been his intention to spend more time indulging his passion for watching cricket.

Then at 11pm last Wednesday night he got the call from the education secretary - who, next morning, announced that he was going to chair the inquiry into A-level grading and standards.

He accepted with apparent relish.

The alleged A-level grades manipulation

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TOMLINSON INQUIRY

FEATURES
See also:

15 Jan 02 | Education
19 Jul 01 | Education
09 Feb 01 | Mike Baker
16 Nov 00 | Education
01 Dec 00 | Education
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