In a keynote address to the NLGN's conference 'Learning from Partnerships in Education' yesterday, Mr Timms said that LEAs should be given greater freedom to take up a range of partnership working that puts the pupil first and delivers higher quality educational services. Such partnerships could:
* prepare the LEAs education development plan
* develop the LEAs Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership Plan
Speaking to delegates at the conference - the first to include representatives from all ten of the DfES 'New Model' education partnership pilots - the minister for school standards declared:
'We are entering a new era of partnership where LEAs will be free to engage in smart partnerships to deliver excellent education. Working in partnership with other bodies can increase the capacity, quality and responsiveness of local education services.'
Highlighting the need for LEAs to be free to deliver local services in imaginative ways, Mr Timms stated that the government would not stand in the way of innovation that helps raise standards. He added however that where schools are weak or failing, LEAs would be encouraged to consider partnership to secure rapid improvement:
'Indeed, we shall seek a power in the forthcoming education bill to direct LEAs to make use of an external partner as an adviser - be it a voluntary body, another school, another LEA or a private company - where it is the best way to turn around a failing school.'
Illustrating how a skilled and professional approach to partnership would help LEAs deliver the best support they can to pupils and schools, Mr Timms remarked:
'By returning to the needs of the pupil and by organising the system around their needs we can focus on good, strong outcomes - not processes.'