since it was established in 1998, according to a report published
today by the office for standards in education.
improvement is generally effective. Inspectors report that the LEA's
strengths significantly outweigh its weaknesses.
Its strengths include:
- the expertise of staff to support school improvement;
- support for literacy and numeracy;
- support for schools causing concern;
- partnerships with other bodies;
- provision for special educational needs.
The LEA's weaknesses mainly concern the quality of management
services and the arrangements for purchasing them. Its weaknesses
- financial services;
- buildings maintenance;
- aspects of support for attendance.
The LEA is already addressing a number of its shortcomings.
Inspectors say that members and senior officers provide very sound
leadership, and the LEA is well managed. Quality managers (link
advisers) and consultants are well regarded and effective,
particularly in schools where the LEA has identified concerns.
Mike Tomlinson, chief inspector of schools, said: 'West
Berkshire local education authority has strong leadership, and its
Education Development Plan serves as a sound basis for school
improvement. Action to remedy its weaknesses is already underway.'
1. Inspection of West Berkshire local education authority is
published by OFSTED. Members of the public may obtain copies of the
report from West Berkshire LEA and it may be downloaded from the
2. The inspection was carried out by OFSTED in conjunction with the
audit commission under Section 38 of the Education Act 1997. It used
the Framework for the Inspection of Local Education Authorities,
which focuses on the effectiveness of the LEA's work to support
3. The inspection was partly based on data, some of which was
provided by the LEA, on school inspection information and audit
reports, on documentation and discussions with LEA members, staff in
education services and other parts of the council and representatives
of the LEA's partners. In addition, a questionnaire seeking views on
aspects of the LEA's work was circulated to all schools. The response
rate was 82 per cent.
4. OFSTED is a non-ministerial government department established
under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility for the
inspection of all schools in England. Its inspection role also
includes the inspection of local education authorities, teacher
training institutions, youth work and all 16-19 education. From
September 2001 OFSTED will have responsibility for the regulation of
early years childcare, including childminders.