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SCHOOLS: LONDON MEMBERS PUT CASE FOR LOCAL ACCOUNTABLITY

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Three members of London councils have written to The Times (p17) to comment on William Hague's plans to reform the ...
Three members of London councils have written to The Times (p17) to comment on William Hague's plans to reform the education system.

Paul Dimoldenberg, opposition spokesman for education at Tory-controlled Westminster LBC, says the plans to abolish LEAs and give all the money direct to schools will not work. He cites the experience at Westminster to prove the point.

'In the early 1990s Westminster abolished its schools inspection service and forced schools to adopt local management well in advance of anyone else. The result of this was a string of critical Ofsted reports on five of Westminster's eight secondary schools, two of which were placed in special measures.'

'It is only in the past two years, since the election of a Labour government, that the council has been forced to rethink its role and provide the resources and support necessary to help schools in difficulty.'

The letter concludes: 'Surely the practical needs of pupils, parents and teachers should come before the Conservatives' pursuit of newspaper headlines.'

Christopher Buckmaster, chair of Kensington and Chelsea LBC's education committee, and Keith Cunningham, Labour's education spokesman on the Tory-run borough, have written a joint letter calling for the debate on education to focus more on ends than on means.

They say any further reduction in LEA power will mean funds being transferred either a centrally-appointed quango or to a private company, neither of which will be locally and democratically accountable.

'Nor should it be assumed that bureaucracy and red tape are the prerogative of LEAs rather than central government,' they write.

'We ask that the education debate, whether in the forthcoming green paper or elsewhere, should concentrate more on ends than means.

'We all want better educational standards and there should be maximum flexibility in delivering them. Good education authorities have much to contribute and add value. They should not be sacrificed for the failure of the few.'

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