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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 9.45AM

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NEW MEASURES TO CUT STAFF VETTING BACKLOG ...
NEW MEASURES TO CUT STAFF VETTING BACKLOG

The government has rushed out a package of emergency measures to clear a huge backlog of applications from people about to take up new jobs in schools. The Department for Education and Skills said it had drawn up an urgent action plan to tackle the outstanding background checks on new staff due to take up posts in schools and nursuries on September 4. The Guardian(p2) reports that nursuries have warned that they will have to close becuase they could not risk taking on staff who had not been subject to full vetting.

GREENWICH CHANGES CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES AFTER FOUR-YEAR-OLD'S DEATH

Greenwich LBC has changed its child protection procedures after a single father beat his four-year-old daughter to death with a belt, reports The Daily Telegraph(p14). Nicole Smith was not on the social services department's at-tisk register when she died in July last year but she was known to the department. Her father, Elvis Smith, was ordered to be detained indefinitely in a secure psychiatric unit after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

MINISTERS TO ABANDON 'FLOOD TAX' PLAN

The government is to abandon plans to impose a 'flood tax' on two million homes in low-lying areas of Britain amid fears of an electoral backlash, according to The Independent(p2). The flood plains levy idea was raised by a Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs working group earlier this year as a means of raising funds to improve defences. But ministers have now been advised that the levy will prove both impractical and unpopular.

FLAGSHIP COLLEGES BREAK GRAMMAR SCHOOL DOMINANCE OF LEAGUE TABLES

A growing number of specialist schools are beginning to challenge the remaining grammar schools for top slots in the GCSE exams league tables. Three of the government's city technology colleges achieved results that would have put them in the top 100 of selective schools, according to results compiled by the Independent(p8). Labour sees its city academy strategy as particularly important in solving its problems with education in London, where up to 30% of parents in some boroughs are opting for private education for their children.

CONCERN OVER ACCOUNTABILITY OF CITY ACADEMIES

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has voiced concern about the accountability of city academies as sponsors appoint the majority of governors, reports The Times Educational Supplement (p4). Chris Keates, deputy general secretary of the NASUWT, said: 'These schools are run by businessesand we have concerns about their accountability. It is state funding with no democratic accountability and that ought to be a concern to local taxpayers.' However, a spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said: 'City academies are fully accountable to their local communities and it is nonsense to suggest otherwise.'

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