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Case study: Manchester;Local authorities

Sarah Cassidy and Nicolas Barnard report on the latest assessment of England's education authorities

MANCHESTER saw one of the largest falls in pupil spending - some pound;120 per primary and pound;150 per secondary pupil in real terms - but one of the biggest increases in GCSE scores among metropolitan authorities, with pupils gaining five good A*-Cs up 3 per cent.

The results date from the year when the city was undergoing its traumatic and controversial inspection by the Office for Standards in Education, which produced a damning report and complaints from the authority.

OFSTED criticised the city council for poor financial management; too many surplus places; poor but improving exam results; and high levels of exclusions.

It remains among the 15 worst-performing authorities but escaped the growing divide between good and poor performers: its GCSE results rose fastest in the group and faster than all but two of the 15 best councils.

David Johnston, Manchester's chief education officer, said: "Schools are best placed to raise standards - we have to support and challenge them."

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