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SEA SEEKS STATUS AS GUARDIAN FOR PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS

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Suzanne Simmons-Lewis reports from the Society of Education Officers conference in Manchester. ...
Suzanne Simmons-Lewis reports from the Society of Education Officers conference in Manchester.

The Society of Education Officers has announced it will expand its organisation to include a larger scope of education professionals.

At its annual winter conference president Alan Parker said the society would build on its recent merger with the Association of Chief Education Officers to form a confederation of education professionals (LGC, 25 January). This would include officers who undertake mainstream education work, such as inspectors, advisers and career officers. Professional associations for education service managers would also be encouraged to merge with the SEO.

Mr Parker said: 'We have set a broader vision for the society and opened up our structure to other groups of education service managers. We have had preliminary talks with a number of such groups. These are most advanced with the Society of Chief Inspectors & Advisors.'

Mr Parker said the new expanded society is aiming to be the 'guardian for professional standards in education'.

'Teachers have the General Teaching Council to enforce standards, and in a sense we are the professional association for education managers,' he said. 'This is because collective views about the standard of behaviour education officers ought to exhibit is required for membership of the society. Although we don't have any formal disciplinary powers, we can throw someone out of the membership if they are not exhibiting our standards.'

In his presidential address Mr Parker said the association should take forward the eight- point action plan of his predecessor Andrew Baxter, with particular focus on fair funding for education departments and a united voice for education service managers.

'I believe there should be an even more radical change in the way education is funded than the government has proposed,' he said. 'In particular we must free the system from the bureaucratic nightmare of the plethora of specific grants that now account for 12% of education funding.'

The society will continue its work forming partnerships, tackling recruitment and retention, and boosting international collaboration.

This summer the SEO will launch its new brand and logo to represent its status as a confederation of education managers.

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'The change process should be managed very carefully by central government and it should trust local government to implement these changes.'

David Cracknell, director of education, Cheshire CC

'The recruitment and retention of teachers is a major area of concern for our local authority.'

Christine Whatford, director of education,

Hammersmith & Fulham LBC

'I don't have major concerns about the education bill, but there are issues around involving the private sector willy-nilly. We have to work with the government on getting the regulations right.'

Chris Trinick, director of education, Lancashire CC

'The expansion of specialist schools and admissions policies are a major concern. It will be interesting to see how many of these proposals actually become legislation.'

David Pearce, education manager, Walsall MBC

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