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Friday, 7 April, 2000, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Haringey 'forced' to privatise
teacher in classroom
Haringey is to lose control over some of its education services
A London education authority criticised by inspectors is being forced to contract out more of its services than it wants to, it has been claimed.

School Standards Minister Estelle Morris has welcomed a decision made by Haringey Council to look for an external provider to deliver some of its key education services.

But the council has made it clear that the decision as to how many services it loses was out of its hands.



We had hoped to keep more services, but the government has decided it wants us to outsource more of them.

Haringey Council spokesman

And it has warned that some of its "healthy" services might be given up along with those which were directly criticised by the Office for Standards in Education.

The inspection report, published last year, said that the borough had "too little success" in counteracting the social deprivation experienced by many of its pupils.

Weaknesses

Levels of delegation to schools were low, and central spending by the local education authority itself was "unacceptably high".

The council had failed to communicate its commitment to education to its schools, and decisions by elected members had "exacerbated a culture of mistrust between schools and the LEA".

Inspectors conceded that the council provided effective support for schools in some areas, but said its weaknesses outweighed its strengths.

In November, councillors said they were planning a legal challenge to any government moves to privatise their education service.

This followed a letter the council received from a senior civil servant, which said Haringey might consider "outsourcing" services which had not been criticised, to ensure a package of services "wide enough in scope to offer the potential for radical transformation of the quality of services across the authority."

'Good news'

But the following month, Ms Morris said the council was co-operating with the government.

Capita Managed Services had been selected to work with Haringey, in partnership with Bedfordshire education authority and the Westminster Education Consultancy, to advise on how to get "urgent and significant improvements", she said.

On Friday she said she welcomed Haringey's move to advertise for an external provider.

"It is good news for the education of Haringey's children and will ensure that head teachers and schools get the support they deserve," she said.

'Government agenda'

But a council spokesman said the decision "was not of our making, in its entirety".

He said: "We are taking into account the government agenda, which is extremely clear.

"It is clear they want outsourcing to extend to services which are doing well.

"It makes no sense to go into this kicking and screaming. At the end of the day we all want better education for local children.

"We had hoped to keep more services, but the government has decided it wants us to outsource more of them."

The spokesman said the services to be contracted out would include special educational needs and the borough's schools inspectorate.

The final extent of outsourcing was still being discussed, but it would not include the borough's early years services, which had been praised as a centre of excellence.

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