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EDITIONS
Unions 2000 Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
'Shadowy' meddling in education services
graham lane
Graham Lane: "We do it best"
By Sean Coughlan at the NUT conference in Harrogate

"Shadowy figures around Whitehall" should not be allowed to push local authorities out of education, the National Union of Teachers' annual conference was told.

Despite "the usual suspects calling for the end of local education authorities", the head of education for the Local Government Association, Graham Lane, said local authorities had a successful track record in delivering progress.

While the government experimented with educational "gimmicks", practical improvements were being achieved by local authorities, he said.

"Local education authorities are bringing schools out of special measures in record time, but are doing so working with teachers and local organisations.

"There is not quick or simple solution - and the last thing we want is the impression that there is."

'Private firms not interested'

And he said that although there were calls for the role of local education authorities to be diminished, often they were the only organisations who could put the government's policies into practice.

"Without local government the education action zones would have failed. They tried to persuade private contractors to run action zones but industry has no desire to run schools," he said.

"We now have calls for failing schools to be taken over by private companies and the Department for Education. What a combination.

"Imagine Alchemy or BMW being asked to take over a failing school. The first thing they would do is replace the students and claim success."

Local education authorities have come under increasing pressure from central government - including repeated claims that councils have failed to pass on extra funds to schools.

In this year's Budget, much of the money allocated for education by-passed local authorities and was given directly to schools.

And a series of local authorities have been stripped of their education services after highly critical inspection reports, with services taken over by private contractors.

See also:

23 Mar 00 | UK Education
11 Apr 00 | UK Education
18 Mar 00 | UK Education
22 Mar 00 | UK Education
24 Sep 98 | UK Education
22 Apr 99 | UK Education
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