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Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
More firms to run education services
peter smith with monopoly game
Union leader Peter Smith has ridiculed privatisation
More private organisations have been given official approval to run local education services in England.

The extended list - bringing the total to 17 - reflects the market opening up as local education authorities (LEAs) are accused by the standards watchdog, Ofsted, of not being up to the job.

But as well as the private companies one of the seven new providers is itself an education authority - Camden, recently praised by inspectors for the quality of its service.

The School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, said: "It is important that as the number of local education authority interventions grow that we have the capacity to deal with them effectively. These new providers should help us to do that."

The other newcomers to the list are: Serco, WS Atkins Consultants, the Tribal Group/Group 4 consortium, the Prospects/Pannell Kerr Forster/Nabarro Nathanson consortium, the Bevan Ashford consortium, and QAA Education Consultants.

There are also more organisations approved for providing education consultancy services: Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, DBi Associates/CELSI, the Nord Anglia consortium and Cambridge Education Associates.

'Experience'

Ms Morris said: "I welcome the quality and breadth of experience represented by the organisations that have come forward to express an interest in this work.

"Those with a strong track record in strategic management and service delivery in other sectors have a major role to play, in partnership with those with educational expertise and experience, to bring about improvement in LEAs with difficulties.

"I particularly welcome Camden LEA's success in being appointed as one of the service providers. Last month Camden LEA received an excellent Ofsted report and their background serving one of the most diverse communities in the country will be of tremendous benefit to other areas.

"We also hope that LEAs will see the benefits of choosing to work with these organisations on a voluntary basis to assist with the provision of their services, and not just in the event of intervention as a result of a poor Ofsted inspection."

What they do

The sort of services the approved contractors might provide include support for the primary school literacy and numeracy strategies, support for schools causing concern, and services dealing with pupils' welfare or special educational needs.

With the 1999 School Standards and Framework Act the government took the power to intervene where a local education authority was said to be failing adequately to carry out its duties towards schools.

So far there have been interventions in the London boroughs of Hackney, Islington, Southwark and Haringey, and in Liverpool, Walsall, Bristol, Leicester, Sandwell, Doncaster, Sheffield, Rotherham, and Leeds.

Last November Ms Morris said in a speech to education officers that she expected further major interventions in failing LEAs.

The message was reinforced when she invited new applications to run education services in February.

The trend has prompted concern about the privatisation of education among teachers' unions.

At the annual conference of the ATL union last month, its general secretary, Peter Smith, likened what was going on to a game of education Monopoly.

The full list of approved contractors is now:

Consultants

Birmingham LEA/Arthur Andersen/APS Keele
Capita
Lorien
KPMG
Office of Public Management
Pricewaterhouse Coopers

plus

Deloitte & Touche
Ernst & Young
DBi Associates/CELSI
Nord Anglia consortium
Cambridge Education Associates

Education service contractors

Birmingham LEA/Arthur Andersen/APS Keele
Cambridge Education Associates
Capita
CEM
CfBT
The Education Partnership
Essex LEA/Windsor & Co
Hampshire LEA
Include
Nord Anglia

plus

Serco
WS Atkins Consultants
Ensign (Tribal Group/Group 4) consortium
Prospects/Pannell Kerr Forster/Nabarro Nathanson consortium
Bevan Ashford consortium
QAA Education Consultants
Camden LEA

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See also:

18 Apr 00 | Hot Topics
Inspections
11 Apr 00 | Education
Camden succeeds against odds
16 Mar 00 | Education
Inspectors issue 'urgent warning'
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