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Plans to extend LEA powers are misguided

Bob Doe's article on the Association of Metropolitan Authorities' discussion document relating to local management of schools (TES, November 11) reveals just how many councillors have never accepted the current local management regime. The document contains many worrying factors, of which the following are the most serious:

* the idea that LEAs should be the main arbiters of quality might be taken more seriously if they all had an exemplary track record in this area; * the proposal that heads should be directly accountable to education officers, and be prevented from being governors, in the interests of "accountability", does not hold water; * is it seriously suggested that chief executives, in both the private and public sectors, are not accountable to their boards because they sit on them, advise them and implement their decisions?

* the current system of fixing heads' and deputies' salaries may not be ideal, but the concept of LEAs determining their salaries will be viewed with real concern. Many LEAs have adopted negative attitudes to heads' and deputies' pay and have blatantly tried to hold it down; * a return to the 1986 Act provisions for headship appointments, and the introduction of power for LEAs to direct governors if LEA guidelines are not followed, would be a real step back into the past.

The AMA document is an obvious attempt to claw back powers which elected members never wished to lose in the first place. Obviously LMS needs to be improved (eg average pay v actual), and the balance between heads and governors should be changed, but the AMA is misguided in its approach. In the meantime, if this is the shape of things to come, the document's immediate impact will be to place a powerful weapon in the hands of those lobbying for grant-maintained status.

DAVID HART

General secretary

National Association of Head Teachers

1 Heath Square

Boltro Road, Haywards Heath

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