Headlines: January 11th, 1999

Local government leaders are concerned at plans announced by Education Secretary David Blunkett to clamp down on councils which fail local schools.The Government says that if local education authorities fail to provide adequate support to schools in their area, it is prepared to take the service away from authorities, handing the job to neighbouring councils, or even consultants from the private sector.

The Local Government Association has immediately launched a campaign ‘to keep education democratic’, saying that elected councillors, governors and parents on education committees, have a right to be involved in how their children were taught.

LGA education chair Cllr Graham Lane said: ‘These plans for privatising schools break the first rule of democracy – no taxation without representation.

He added: ‘When a school does badly in one set of exams, you don’t just close it down. You work with teachers and governors to make sure that their performance improves. The same should hold for LEAs. Last year the LGA sent an action team to Calderdale LEA to help it improve its performance when people had called for it to be closed down. Now it is back on track.’

He says that LGA’s new improvement agency, which is being set up to improve council performance, should be allowed the time to improve the quality of education authorities, rather than allowing others to step in.