Headlines: March 16th, 2000

The Local Government Association (LGA), which has made strenuous efforts to be seen to work with the Labour administration, has criticised latest plans for failing schools as ‘half-baked gimmicks.’In an unusually strong rebuff to Government plans, the LGA says plans to turn the worst inner city schools into ‘City Academies’, managed by business, church and community leaders as a cover designed to deflect attention from the failure of another initiative, Fresh Start.

Controversially, academies will have the freedom to vary the school day or year if they wish and to design new approaches to staffing.

The LGA says that local education authorities are working to pull poor performing schools around, with OFSTED figures showing fewer schools in special measures for a shorter time.

It points out that education authorities have already supported previous and ongoing initiatives such as Education Action Zones and Excellence in Cities.

Fresh Start was introduced in 1997 as a way of giving a boost to a failing school by closing it, and re-opening on a new site with a new head, some new staff and a new name.