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FAS success

I must take issue with my old friend Demitri Coryton (TES, May 19) for suggesting that the Government should abolish the Funding Agency for Schools while signalling the success of another funding agency, the Further Education Funding Council.

True, the FAS has a difficult brief in not only funding grant- maintained schools, but sharing the planning of school places with those local authorities which have a significant proportion of pupils in grant-maintained schools. But the FAS is discharging those duties very effectively and co-operation with local education authorities has broken out almost everywhere.

It is clear that some LEAs remain implacably opposed to GM schools, although parents are finding that GM schools provide good education. GM schools will always need a champion, one stage removed from the Government, to counter the overt hostility of these LEAs, leaving the Department for Education free to resolve conflicting proposals.

Demitri is also wrong to suggest that the fear of schools voting to go GM is preventing LEAs cutting down on surplus places. The facts do not bear this out. Since June 1993, the score of conflicting closureGM proposals is: closure 22, GM 8. Unless Demitri believes that all closure proposals are well-thought-out and must be approved, he must concede that the "excuse" used by some LEAs to avoid cutting out surplus places is just that, and he should not encourage it.

ROBIN SQUIRE

Parliamentary Under-Secretary Department for Education

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