Private Leeds firm tries to win over hostile schools

A HIGH-PROFILE partnership with a private company has yet to make Leeds'

education service satisfactory, according to inspectors.

The Office for Standards in Education this week praised the achievements so far of Education Leeds, the company that a year ago took over schools in the city following a damning inspection. But inspectors said that the education authority was still not satisfactory and was failing to provide consistent services.

Education Leeds is owned by the city council and is non-profit making, but is managed by Capita as part of a pound;3.7 million deal lasting three years.

OFSTED said that the company's mission had been "far from easy" as it had faced "obdurately low" standards of attainment.

The firm had been greeted with "fierce opposition" by schools that wished to stay under the control of the council but had started to improve services significantly.

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said: "We have always said this is a five-year project. If it wasn't going to be difficult, we wouldn't be here."

Westminster LEA also received an encouraging report this week, which said that it had improved rapidly since its last inspection two years ago.Similar encouragement was given to Luton, where inspectors said the authority's strengths now outweighed its weaknesses.

Sandwell was congratulated for performing most functions satisfactorily. But inspectors said few of its functions were "good", and a small number were not adequate.

In Dudley, heads told OFSTED they believed the quality of many services had fallen since the authority's last inspection. Inspectors disagreed, saying the education management team "had tackled weaknesses with energy". But they said it was crucial to build better relations with schools.

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