Headlines: December 13th, 2002

Local authorities have been praised for delivering consistent levels of performance in many areas of educational provision. The Schools Minister,David Miliband, was commenting after the publication of the first star ratings for Local Education Authorities.The gradings have been developed in response to the White Paper ‘Strong Local Leadership – Quality Public Services’, which was published in December 2001. Of 150 LEAs, 32 have been awarded three stars for their current performance and 113 were also awarded three stars for improvement.

But the ratings show almost half the authorities in England still need to address questions of performance or have not yet secured the capacity to make further improvement. The star system reflects a range of indicators which cover a broad range of education services. Some of the indicators have been drawn from inspection judgments, and others come from performance measures such as the average points scores for all 11 year olds in the national tests in English and mathematics.

David Miliband said he wanted to thank all those in local government who had contributed to improvements in education since 1997. “Much has been achieved but there still is much to do if our education system is to become truly world class. There are no grounds for complacency, ” he said.

“We have set tough targets and have made high demands. It has not been easy but increasing numbers of LEAs are rising to the challenge and standards are improving across the board ” he added.

The minister said the national strategies on literacy and numeracy were succeeding in narrowing gaps in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged LEAs. In English, for example, no LEA now has less than 62% of pupils achieving the expected standard at age 11. In 1996, the average figure for all LEAs was only 57%. “The three star authorities have set a standard which I want all LEAs to aim for,” Mr. Miliband said.