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May I, as a councillor with nine years' service on Newcastle education committee, comment on the primary heads' vote of no confidence in our director of education, Nils Purser (TES, June 9).

The resolution of the primary heads is badly framed and imprecisely expressed. Neither of the two accusations it makes against the director bears serious examination.

The first charge is that the director has provided insufficient support for primary schools. One deduces that this applies specifically to advisory andor financial support. Whether or not these grievances are legitimate, they result from decisions taken by the education committee, not the director.

The second charge is that the director is responsible for two schools failing their inspections. While responsibility may lie with intractable social problems, bad teaching or inadequate schoolmanagement, it is ridiculous to blame the director for matters which lie outside his direct area of responsibility.

For too long Newcastle's education service has had a deservedly low reputation. However, during the past three years the quality of the service within the parameters of local management and financial constraints has vastly improved and Mr Purser must take much of the credit for this.

The chairman of education is quite right to argue that Newcastle should have a vision of education which involves raising standards - though one must wonder at the absence of this vision during the past 21 years of Labour control - but responsibility for improved standards lies mainly with our schools. The ostentatious failure of Councillor Darren Murphy to support the fifth director of education in eight-and-a-half years has had a dangerously destabilising effect.

GERRY KEATING Lib Dem education spokesman 34 Acomb Crescent Newcastle upon Tyne

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