Headlines: October 26th, 2006



A new report says local government is uniquely placed to drive better education and lead the strategy for schools. The report from the think tank, New Local Government Network details the extent of the task council are facing in steering education provision following the 2006 Education and Inspections Bill and how they should use their unique position to drive up standards.

“Schools of Thought: How local authorities drive improved outcomes in education”, argues that education reforms up to and including the new Bill have created an environment in which local authorities drive better educational outcomes through influence and persuasion, rather than command and control. It says councils are uniquely placed because they can address the whole of a child’s environment, beyond the classroom as well as at school.

The report uses twelve case studies in local authorities to reach key findings, including the fact that councils are taking a whole-child approach and that their wider role in children’s services are integral in promoting educational attainment; authorities also accept their role is changing to strategic commissioner; some councils are developing their market management skills and authorities have adapted to a pluralist environment and are comfortable with the fragmentation of responsibilities.

The report recommends local government should be given a time limited task to raise influencing skills, before more direct action from the Department for Education. It also urges Joint Area Reviews to assess the competence of local authorities to manage a diversity of supply and create shared goals and that authorities should identify a pool of potential Trust School sponsors and build relationships with them. The authors call on the Government to introduce a duty on local partners to co-operate with local authorities’ duty of well being. Finally they say Ofsted’s school inspections should introduce a new assessment to recognise an individual school’s contribution to the success of schools in its area.