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Authorities should have broad role

I WAS pleased that the long-awaited Green Paper on finance has not gone for a simplistic common funding formula, allows options to be consulted upon and makes clear the continuing role for local education authorities.

I was disappointed, however, at the narrow way in which that role was defined. There was no mention of standards, challenge or support. In fact, the only passing reference to the authority' role in school improvement related to failing schools.

I am, however, heartened by the informal reports from colleagues about the results of the Big Brother-style computerised voting on questions being asked by the Department for Education and Employment at the regional roadshows.

Heads and governors present at these come from a broad spectrum of schools, not just failing schools, and, as far as I know, local authorties have topped the poll at each of the roadshows, when asked to indicate which agencies provided most effective support to schools.

It is pleasing that whenever schools are asked directly, in general they support the role played by their authorities.

Hopefully, the response to the roadshows will inform the DFEE paper currently being written on the role of local education authorities. There then needs to be close liaison between government departments so that if there is to be separate funding for education which is being worked up in detail by Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, that it is sufficient to cover the totality of what LEAs are supposed to do.

Christine Whatford

Past president

Society of Education Officers

Boulton House, 17-21 Chorlton St

Manchester

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