Friday, October 22, 1999 Published at 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Education chief quits ahead of inspection
Test results in Southwark have been below average
The director of education of a struggling inner-London authority has resigned weeks before the return of inspectors.
Gordon Mott, director of education at the London Borough of Southwark, has taken early retirement in the run up to a re-inspection by the Office for Standards in Education - although he denies that this is the cause of his departure.
The education authority, which contains some of the capital's most deprived neighbourhoods, had been heavily criticised in a previous inspection.
The authority has repeatedly appeared at the lower end of school league tables - sixth off the bottom rung this year for primary school tests and ninth off the bottom last year.
The chair of the education committee, Stephanie Elsy, has confirmed that the authority is considering putting out some of its education services to private tender, including the school improvement unit.
"We have made efforts to set up our own unit with rather mixed success," said Ms Elsy.
If Southwark goes ahead with contracting out services it could pre-empt direct intervention from the education secretary - if inspectors find that the authority has not made sufficient progress.
After Ofsted inspections had highlighted weaknesses in other inner-London boroughs - Islington and Hackney - the education department had called for the privatisation of a range of education services.