Education strategy could undermine children’s services reform

    The reform of children’s services could be undermined by
    the government’s five-year education strategy, the Local
    Government Association has warned, writes Sally
    Gillen.

    The strategy, launched last week by education secretary Charles
    Clarke, will mean every school will be independent, have new
    freedoms, and be funded by three-year budgets from 2006.

    Although funding will officially continue to be channelled
    through local authorities, councils will not be allowed to divert
    the dedicated schools budget to other services.

    Former LGA chair Sir Jeremy Beecham reacted angrily to the
    proposals, claiming that the association had not been
    consulted.

    Speaking at the LGA’s annual conference in Bournemouth
    last week, Beecham said: “Any attempt to diminish the role of
    local councils in education, from whatever source, would serve to
    undermine the thrust of the new education and children’s
    agenda.

    “Removing responsibility for admissions policies, and
    weakening the connection between schools and other local services,
    would threaten the development of seamless children’s
    services.”

    Under the plans, secondary schools will be entitled to own their
    own land and buildings, manage their assets, employ staff, improve
    their governing bodies, and forge partnerships with outside
    sponsors. By 2008, every secondary school that is up to standard
    should be a specialist school.

    All schools that are not yet foundation schools will be able to
    vote to become one.

     

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