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ACTION TO BE TAKEN TO IMPROVE EDUCATION SERVICE IN WALSALL FOLLOWING HIGHLY CRITICAL OFSTED REPORT

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Education secretary Estelle Morris has welcomed the positive ...
Education secretary Estelle Morris has welcomed the positive

assessment by OFSTED of the performance of Serco/QAA in running

school improvement and associated strategic management functions in

Walsall. Because of the continuing weaknesses in many services run

by the Local Education Authority (LEA) itself, however, the

government and Walsall MBC will appoint consultants to advise on

whether more services should be transferred to Serco/QAA.

The consultants will advise on which of the education services that

the LEA supplies should be transferred to its strategic partner,

Serco/QAA, because they have been judged by OFSTED to be inadequate.

Ms Morris said:

'OfSTED has commended the rapid progress made by Serco/QAA since

September last year in restructuring and redefining the services to

support schools, and in the quality of service delivery. But the LEA

has not made the improvements expected of it. Parents and pupils

deserve better.

'The Ofsted re-inspection report makes clear that many education

services in Walsall are continuing to fail children and do not

support schools. The council is performing many of its

responsibilities unsatisfactorily. This is unacceptable.

'OfSTED has reported that 'the overall performance of the LEA remains

very poor' and there is no doubt about the gravity of the situation.'

'In light of the seriousness of the report, I have agreed with the

council that further action is needed and I welcome the decision by

the chief executive and members to support this consultancy. We are

looking to the consultants to advise on the most effective and

coherent organisation of education services under a revised contract

in order to give schools and pupils in Walsall the services they

deserve.

'We need a solution that will best serve the needs of Walsall's

pupils and schools, no matter how radical. Consultants will have

four weeks to review the performance of LEA retained services and

advise on transfer arrangements.'

NOTES

1. The first critical inspection report on Walsall LEA was published

by OfSTED in December 1999. Following this report, a private sector

company was brought in to deliver many of the LEA's school

improvement services. The contract with Serco/QAA was signed in July

2001.

2. Under the terms of the contract, if the secretary of state

decides that any of the services retained by the council is being

performed inadequately, the council and the contractor must negotiate

the transfer of such services to the contractor.

3. The Ofsted re-inspection report on education services in Walsall

was published on 10 April 2002 and is available here .

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