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Shadow education secretary David Blunkett has set tough new powers Labour would use to improve local education auth...
Shadow education secretary David Blunkett has set tough new powers Labour would use to improve local education authorities.

Their role will be focused on setting and meeting performance targets, helping failing schools and becoming 'a voice for parents', he told delegates at the party's local government conference in Nottingham last weekend.

Mr Blunkett said: 'We will set efficiency targets for all authorities, based on their local development plans. Such plans will have to be approved by the secretary of state.

'We will not tolerate failure. Regardless of whether the authority is Tory, Liberal Democrat or Labour, we will act.'

Under Labour LEAs will be inspected by Ofsted and the Audit Commission. If any are deemed to be failing an 'improvement team' will be sent in, the relevant powers of the education committee would be suspended and the team would report directly to the secretary of state.

'While the team is there it would set about introducing a new development plan for the authority, ensuring local targets were being set and met. Only when the team and the secretary of state were satisfied the authority was back on the right tracks would local arrangements be put in place.'

LEAs would be expected to increase the proportion of the potential schools budget delegated to schools from the present 85% minimum to at least 90%, and to cut what the party calls 'red tape spending' to a maximum of£50 per pupil.

Labour will also examine whether schools can do more through decentralising support and administration from the education authority to local clusters of schools.

The party will be looking at ways to accelerate management training for senior officers, and intends to provide clear guidance on the roles of officers, members and school governors.

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