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HIGHER LITERACY RATES MEAN MORE JOBS FOR LEAs

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The Times Educational Supplement (p4) publishes a table describing how much each local education authority in the c...
The Times Educational Supplement (p4) publishes a table describing how much each local education authority in the country must improve its 11-year-old literacy rates. The encouraging news for LEAs, according to the TES, is that the new bill could mean more job opportunities within their departments. For example, Essex CC is considering appointing up to 30 extra officers in the next two years at a cost of up to£1 million, so that it can implement government programmes.

The bill will place new duties on local authorities, including target-driven education development plans to raise standards, financial schemes and admissions panels to plan school places. LEAs say that they are willing partners, claims the TES. But many have slashed their education departments under years of Tory cuts, and those hit hardest are those, like Essex, that opted for the grant maintained sector.

The Local Government Association's head of education David Whitbread told the TES that even authorities that had not suffered mass opt-outs could have their work cut out: 'If you are going to expect authorities to do things and be accountable for them, resources are needed.' But, the TES points out, ministers have made it clear they want LEAs to direct their cash towards schools. Some cash should be freed by the abolition of the Funding Agency for Schools, but not before April 1999.

Whitbread is quoted: 'We are torn between wanting to argue for adequate funding to do our jobs properly and not stopping money going into schools -- because at the end of the day there is no point having a Rolls-Royce machine if schools are running as Austin 7s.'
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