Headlines: March 4th, 2003

The part local councils can play in combating social exclusion and dealing with the widening gap in achievement in education will be examined in detail today at a conference organised by the think-tank the New Local Government Network.It takes place against a background of a steady overall improvement in educational standards but one where the gap in performance continues to grow with particular groups of children and young people being left behind. It will examine what modern local authorities and their partners should be doing to confront these failures, and what differences the recent Education Act can make. It will also consider how collaboration and new service delivery partnerships can offer more support to schools in meeting the needs of those pupils at risk of becoming socially excluded.

The keynote address at the conference will be given by Education Minister Stephen Twigg. Other speakers will include Liz Britton, from the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, Liz Allen, an Independent Schools Analyst and co-author of the recent NLGN/IDeA report “Governing Education for Regeneration” and Dan Corry, Executive Director, of NLGN as well as councillors and education professionals.

Conference plenary sessions will cover community leadership and integrating services for children, social partnerships, self-managing schools and the role of inspection in tackling exclusions. At the same time workshops will look at a number of areas including the way in which schools can act as community champions and what children want from education. The experiences of two local authority areas will also be highlighted with lessons drawn from Ealing on schooling for children in public care and from Tower Hamlets on the New Deal for Communities.