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Inspectors praise Capita

Capita, the much-criticised private firm at the centre of the Criminal Records Bureau fiasco, was given a boost this week as inspectors praised the "good progress" it has made helping to run Haringey education authority.

The north London borough was given a clean bill of health five years after inspectors' criticism persuaded ministers to intervene and almost three years after a partnership was forged with Capita.

The Office for Standards in Education's latest report on the borough's services praises the "energy and commitment" of senior officers provided by Capita. Haringey's strengths now far outweigh its weaknesses and many local authority services that were not good enough are now satisfactory.

Results have improved in all but one of Haringey's secondaries in the two years since Capita's involvement began. Three schools, Gladesmore, White Hart Lane and Park View, doubled the proportion of children getting five Cs or better at GCSE.

The partnership between Haringey and Capita will end in August and senior staff, including director of education Sharon Shoesmith, will transfer from the firm to the education authority.

Arrangements for the transfer won praise from Ofsted, which expressed confidence that services will continue to improve.

Ms Shoesmith, a former inspector, said: "This report is good news but ...

there is still work to be done. What is different about this intervention is that it was not outsourcing - it was a strategic partnership. The council kept responsibility for education with advice from Capita. It is a model worth learning from."

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