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.