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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 11:50 GMT
Ofsted chief to run Hackney schools
Hackney
Hackney wants to draw a line under its problems
The chief inspector of schools in England is to take over running one of the country's most troubled education services.

Mike Tomlinson, who is to step down from his post as education watchdog in April, is set to become chairman of the trust which will run schools in the London Borough of Hackney.

The new appointment, which begins in August, will mark the latest effort to revitalise a struggling inner-city education service.

Mike Tomlinson
Mike Tomlinson will take on an education service with a troubled past

The east London borough's education service has faced a series of damning reports from inspectors, resignations, government interventions and partial privatisations.

Ofsted has been a tough critic of education standards in Hackney - and this watchdog-turned-gamekeeper appointment will see Mr Tomlinson attempting to reverse a track record of failure.

Hackney three years ago became the first of the so-called "failing" authorities to have control of its education services taken away.

This included the authority's services for school improvement and ethnic minority achievement, which have been run by the private company, Nord Anglia.

Under-achievement

The education service will now be run by a not-for-profit trust, headed by the outgoing chief inspector, a move which the local authority hopes will draw a line under its long-running problems.

Mr Tomlinson will have to turn around an authority that has a prolonged record of underachievement, with exam results well below national averages.

At GCSE, Hackney was among the 10 worst performing authorities in England, with only a third of pupils achieving five or more good GCSEs.

This is the latest example of how the government has contracted out the running of struggling education services.

But the introduction of the private sector has not necessarily brought immediate improvements.

The private company company which now runs schools in Islington faces 400,000 in fines after exam and test results failed to achieve performance targets.

The arrangement for Hackney will be the first of a new model for contracting out services, with the non-profit-making trust having so far received the support of both the local authority and teachers' unions.

The trust will have its own board of directors, which will include head teachers and a school governor.

Mr Tomlinson, who will become the trust's chairman, took over as chief inspector in December 2000, after more than 20 years working in school inspection services.

See also:

05 Dec 01 | Education
Privatised education service fined
07 May 99 | Features
Hackney's troubled past
19 Mar 99 | Education
Council to lose school powers
17 Oct 01 | England
New trust to run education service
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