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Neighbour helps out Manchester

MANCHESTER council has poached neighbouring Salford's education chief, to help it implement its action plan after a critical inspection report.

David Johnston will return to Manchester - where he was previously deputy chief education officer - on around Pounds 80,000 a year. He will take over from Roy Jobson, who starts a new job in Edinburgh in October.

Manchester's education service was criticised by the Office for Standards in Education, in a report released by chief inspector Chris Woodhead before an agreed publication date. Manchester's response was published last week.

OFSTED highlighted problems with statements of special educational needs, surplus places, and school deficits, and drew attention to 140 excluded pupils that the authority was unable to account for. But it also noted the city's improving test and GCSE results, and good quality teaching.

Mr Johnston said: "I am very optimistic that by working together - particularly with headteachers, staff teams, parents and governors - the challenges presented by Manchester's OFSTED inspection will be met and overcome."

Manchester's action plan pledges better strategic planning and improved communication with schools.

Manchester has already submitted one action plan to Education Secretary David Blunkett on permanently-excluded pupils and statements.

The latest plan outlines the city's response to other recommendations from the inspectors, including those on surplus places, school budget deficits, and low attainment.

The Manchester plan promises to work with schools, improve consultation and communications with schools, and to target the work of advisers and inspectors more closely.

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