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Headteachers hostile to Kent authority

ENGLAND'S largest local authority is struggling to convince its heads that it can help them raise standards, say inspectors.

Inspectors re-visiting Kent claimed to have encountered more hostility, from a "minority" of heads, against the local authority than in any other council inspection. They said: "(The LEA) has to convince a sizeable number of its schools that it can add value."

This was despite most services having improved since a previous visit in 1998.

Up to 10 foundation schools, which had previously been grant-maintained, "saw little or no role for the authority". Nearly half of secondary schools rated support for headteachers and senior managers as poor.

The Office for Standards in Education said that the Tory-controlled authority was hampered in developing relationships with its heads by the "excessive" complexity of its schooling system. The county has 88 foundation scools and 33 grammars.

The inspection was triggered after OFSTED's first visit uncovered weaknesses including problems with school improvement and support for special needs pupils.

Returning in July, the inspectors found that satisfactory progress had been made in most areas. The report, which remained neutral in the grammar-versus comprehensive debate, said the authority had improved its 11-plus selection arrangements.

However, the authority was still not doing enough to help underachieving schools, while support for new heads was "inadequate".

KENT RE-INSPECTION

Improvements

Overall support for schools

Support for special needs

Post-16 provision

School budget management

11-plus selection

Insufficient progress

Too many heads hostile to authority services

Support for weak schools

Property services poor

Warwick Mansell

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