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Legislation piled high sells councils cheap

It is hard to know whether to take deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine seriously. His article seems to be aimed at cuddling up to parents, pupils and teachers, and scoring points off the Opposition at the expense of local authorities. ("Let our schools set rheir own priorities", TES, January 31).

Perhaps the clue is in the last paragraph, where he stated "Education is about more than prescription" (my emphasis).

Many of us have argued for years that we should trust the professionalism of teachers and the responsibility of parents, but the march of prescriptive legislation has gone on relentlessly.

The law of education in 1997 occupies some 12 inches of shelf space, whereas in 1977 it was barely one-and-a-half inches.

Of course schools that are doing well and enjoying the full confidence of parents should have maximum freedom to get on with the job.

On the other hand Mr Heseltine castigates local authorities for failing to correct glaring deficiencies in bad schools.

We would be happy to discuss with the deputy prime minister the necessary deregulation that would enable local authorities to take action, positively and fairly, where schools have serious weaknesses.

ANDREW COLLIER

General secretary Society of Education Officers Boulton House 17-21 Chorlton Street Manchester

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