News round-up 4/7: School reforms 'unguided missile'
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
A study published by the Royal Society of Art has described education secretary Michael Gove’s free school project as an “unguided missile”, as several schools have been set up in areas where there are no shortage of school places, the Independent reports.
The report calls for the Department for Education to be slimmed down, with responsibilities handed to a network of local school commissioners, the Financial Times reports. It quotes report author and former adviser to Tony Blair Robert Hill as saying the commissioners’ areas should cover “cover boroughs” and control the capital budget whilst taking decisions over closing or refranchising failing schools.
Children’s minister Tim Loughton has described cases of child-sex grooming revealed by the Times as “the tip of the iceberg”, the paper reports. Giving evidence to the home affairs select committee, he said the recent trial of a child-sex network from Rochdale had focused public attention on “sickening levels of abuse” but warned: “we haven’t seen the half of it yet”.
Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions, has questioned whether heavy sentences given to last summer’s rioters were an effective deterrent, the Guardian reports. It says Mr Starmer said the speed with which prosecutions took place was a bigger factor in “bringing the situation back under control.”
The Daily Telegraph reports that staff at the East of England Development Agency awarded themselves £1,000 each in unauthorised bonuses, for the extra hours they worked to wind down the agency. It says the National Audit Office “refused to sign off the annual accounts…after uncovering the illicit payments.” It says “almost all staff” received two £500 handouts, but the agency’s directors did not.
Two-thirds of voters back plans for an elected House of Lords, a ComRes poll for the Independent has shown. This is welcome news for deputy prime minister Nick Clegg ahead of the Commons vote next week as the poll shows support for reform across political parties, social classes and religions.