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WOODHEAD GOES NORTH OF BORDER WITH STANDARDS ATTACK

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Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector of schools in England, has launched an attack on education authorities in Engla...
Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector of schools in England, has launched an attack on education authorities in England, while speaking at an Edinburgh conference - and extended his criticisms to Scottish educational standards.

The Guardian (4 September, p7) reported that Mr Woodhead challenged Scottish educationists to consider if their schools should buy services which were not being well provided by local education authorities.

'Is there anything the LEA does now that the market can do better? The question I think should be asked in Scotland as well as in England is how does an LEA's strategic vison mesh with a school's responsibility to manage its own destiny?' said Mr Woodhead.

He said he was concerned that most LEAs retained a fifth of their share of national schools budget for their own use, and that many critics believed that that money would be better spent if it went straight to schools.

The Scotsman (4 September, p1) reported that Mr Woodhead's comments were welcomed by Brian Monteith, the Tory education spokesman. He said: 'One of the greatest shibboleths in Scottish education is that we cannot learn anything from England. Our education establishment would do well to heed Mr Woodhead's words. Money spent on council administration would be far better used by schools to meet local needs.'

But Keir Bloomer, a spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said most councils spent much less than 20% of their education budgets on central costs and in some cases as little as 10%.

Mr Bloomer added: 'There is a limit to the extent to which headteachers want to be their own accountants, clerks of works and lawyers.

'Local authorities offer a one-stop shop for a wide range of such support services and in that role they provide schools with good value for money.'

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