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Praise for three-star councils

Inspectors declare the vast majority of authorities provide a good education service. Michael Shaw reports

EDUCATION services in more than 90 per cent of local authorities are good or excellent according to ratings which will influence how much freedom councils gain from central government.

The education ratings were produced by the Office for Standards in Education for an Audit Commission assessment of all 150 authorities'

performance this week. Data on other council services such as housing and leisure were also used.

Ofsted gave top marks of three stars to 32 authorities for their education services, and no stars to only two authorities, Kingston-upon-Hull and the London borough of Hackney. Walsall's services were not measured because its service data was not available.

The education ratings used 45 indicators and were the first to combine performance data, such as test results, with inspection judgments.

Education services were given a heavy weighting in the Audit Commission's comprehensive performance assessment, which classified 22 authorities as excellent overall and 13 as poor.

The excellent councils will be relieved of some of the paperwork required by the Government and face fewer Audit Commission inspections. Poor-performing councils will face extra monitoring and possible intervention.

A total of 12 authorities received excellent rankings from both Ofsted and the Audit Commission: Camden, north London; Cheshire; City of London; Cornwall; Hampshire, Hartlepool; Hertfordshire; Kensington and Chelsea, central London; Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London, Kirklees, West Sussex and Wigan.

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