Calderdale LEA

Chris Woodhead has assured Calderdale LEA that it will not be a testing ground for "hit squads".

Last week, Gillian Shephard announced that she had asked Mr Woodhead to appoint a "group of experts" to help sort out Calderdale. This was widely interpreted as a dummy run for Tory manifesto plans to send in hit squads to take over failing LEAs".

The announcement followed a highly critical inspection report on Calderdale.

But in a meeting with council officers on Wednesday, Mr Woodhead told deputy chief executive Paul Sheehan and deputy education director Peter Flower that the experts would be used merely to help OFSTED to evaluate Calderdale's action plan, which is due for completion on April 18. They would be advising OFSTED, not the LEA, and would have no power to influence Calderdale.

Paul Sheehan said: "We had a cordial meeting with Mr Woodhead and were able to resolve the rather unclear picture that emerged last week." Mrs Shephard told Calderdale this week that she was pleased with progress made by The Ridings school in Halifax.

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