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Hackney waits seven months for rescue plan

THE GOVERNMENT faced fresh embarrassment this week over its policy of privatising failing education services when it emerged that the company recruited to revitalise Hackney's schools has taken seven months to draw up an improvement plan.

Documents obtained by The TES reveal talks with Nord Anglia about replacing the east London borough's failing school improvement service began in December.

This was five months after the firm won the contract. Final proposals were expected to be approved as The TES went to press.

At the heart of Nord Anglia's plans will be a school development and review consultancy.

Terry Connolly, head of education support services for Nord Anglia, said: "It's about professional focus as opposed to inspection, about changing the emphasis from the traditional inspection and advisory services. Why should schools be doubly inspected when you have already got OFSTED inspection?"

At least eight consultants will be ppointed to help schools improve.

As with the old inspectors, schools will not be able to refuse their services.

Nord Anglia's plans for Hackney include a newly-created job of executive manager of the new review unit who will be able to intervene in failing schools. That post - along with five other key jobs - will be externally advertised.

There will also be a 10-member business process support team responsible for finance, admin and data processing.

Staff who lose their job as part of the shakeup will be given help with paid time off to seek work. Mr Connolly said it was not clear that there would be redundancies.

Mr Connolly said that Nord Anglia had not been required to put forward proposals by a certain time. "We have taken a sensible amount of time to understand the requirements of schools and take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of what we have inherited."

Hackney refused to comment on the proposals.

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