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'Interventionitis' running high

IN THE three years since the general election, councils have received 1,291 different parcels from education and employment ministers - an average of 1.22 a day, writes Jon Slater.

The number of documents being sent has risen from 23 per month in 1997 to 52 per month so far this year.

The figures, which were revealed in a parliamentary answer to Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, support criticism from opposition politicians and union leaders that the Government is suffering from "interventionitis".

Mr Willis has so far received no response to his question asking how many documents have been sent to schools.

"LEAs are becoming buried under mounds of correspondence from the department. This situation must be brought under control toallow LEAs, schools, and teachers to do their jobs properly," he said.

Neil Fletcher, education officer at the Local Government Association, said local authorities were being expected to deal with more initiatives as well as to channel more money through to schools.

Since May 1997, David Blunkett's Department for Education and Employment has sent councils 437 pieces of guidance, 387 sets of regulations, 315 consultation papers, 143 requests for data and nine ministerial letters.

Last year, 33 sets of guidance were sent out about school finance.

Parliamentary answers also revealed that spending by the DFEE on advertising has more than doubled from pound;7.5 million in 1996-97 to more than pound;15m two years later.

Parliamentary questions, 24

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