Headlines: July 12th, 2002

Ofsted, the office for standards in education, says that local education authorities are responding well to poor reports and demands for improvements.It says that it has been able to work in partnership with councils who are not performing their education brief well – and together – turn things round.

Re-inspection reports show that so far this year, eleven councils previously found wanting are now on the way back up.

For example, in January 2000, Luton was found by Ofsted to be providing uneven and insufficient support to schools. A new report on the authority yesterday (Thursday, July 11) showed the LEA’s strengths to be outweighing its weaknesses, and that it had begun to offer satisfactory support to schools. The same is true of Westminster, which has moved from an unsatisfactory report in February 2000 to a position where OFSTED found the authority to be improving rapidly.

The Department for Education and Skills has worked closely with all eleven authorities, supporting their efforts to address the problems highlighted by Ofsted. In some cases – notably Leeds, Southwark and Rochdale, whose re-inspection reports were also published this month – the Department formally intervened, although solutions were still worked out in partnership with the authorities concerned.

The Government says the turnarounds are a vindication of its decision to include LEAs in Ofsted’s remit, and also for its policy of intervention and support for authorities identified as poorly performing.