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Inspectors praise Warwickshire

SCHOOLS in Warwickshire are benefiting from a well-managed and effective education service, according to an OFSTED inspection report.

The county's director of education, Eric Wood, is praised for his leadership and the report said the education authority achieved the right balance between supporting schools and making sure they set challenging targets.

However, the inspectors noted that standards in schools were not significantly above national results, which may be partly due to the effort needed in carrying out a major reorganisation of schools.

In 1996 the county changed the age at which children started secondary school, and removed surplus places.

The report said: "There are clear signs that with the distraction of school reorganisation behind them, quality and standards in schools are rising."

Warwickshire is a largely rural county run by a hung council dominated by Labour. Spending on education is consistently higher than recommended in the Government's estimates of what the county needs.

Parents from outside the county are keen to send their children to school there. Schools buy services from the local education authority's business unit, which is praised in the report.

Inspectors said the education department was playing a key role in the piloting of best value. But they suggested the county needed to speed up the production of draft statements for children with special needs. Also, support for information and communications technology was not co-ordinated well enough. Overall, inspectors found consistency in the quality of the service.

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