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WEST BERKSHIRE LEA IS MAKING VERY SOUND PROGRESS, SAYS OFSTED

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West Berkshire local education authority (LEA) has made a good start ...
West Berkshire local education authority (LEA) has made a good start

since it was established in 1998, according to a report published

today by the office for standards in education.

Schools have confidence in the LEA, and its support for school

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

include:

- 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.'

NOTES

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

OFSTED website.

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

school improvement.

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.

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