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Bradford MDC is considering a plan to split up its education department and outsource services to schools. ...
Bradford MDC is considering a plan to split up its education department and outsource services to schools.

The plan going before Bradford's executive committee has been encouraged by the Department for Education and Employment, which has been working closely with the council.

If it is approved, school services will be provided by a private contractor signed up to tough improvement targets. Where budgets are delegated, schools will decide whether or not they buy from the contractor.

The contractor will be monitored by a partnership board made up of community groups, councillors, teachers and a national figure from the education field.

Bradford assistant director of school effectiveness Phil Green said the council would be left with the role of 'focusing on strategy and advocating the rights of learners and parents and setting the education budget'.

'There might be other functions the council, in a strategic sense, would continue to do such as the school organisation committee and school admissions forum,' Mr Green said.

He denied the plans were drawn up in anticipation of criticism from Ofsted. He said the new model had been considered since December last year. Education inspectors visited the department in February, but Mr Green said the council did not know what was in Ofsted's forthcoming report on the inspection.

Bradford leader Ian Greenwood said: 'We are very keen to explore any option which will raise the standard of achievement in the district's schools.'

Meanwhile, the Church of England could seek to take over schools currently under council control. It has set up a schools review group to look at how it can increase the number the church currently runs.

Group secretary Colin Hopkins said the review was not linked to the government's city academies proposal and would look at taking over council-run schools 'as one possibility among many'.

'The feeling we get is the government is quite favourably disposed towards church schools,' Mr Hopkins said.

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