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Report Lincs with OFSTED's view

I WAS appalled to read the grossly negative and unbalanced article on Lincolnshire's Office for Standards in Education report (TES, 20 October).

The article ignores such facts that inspectors found our authority to be innovative, something which they even deemed important enough to include in the title of their recent press release.

Yes, we may have weaknesses in certain schools and we will improve in these areas, but there are also a lot of good aspects about our authority which the report rightly points out.

Lincolnshire has a long history of successful innovation and achievement in education, as the report clearly states, and continues to lead in promoting school autonomy through a high level of delegation of funds, the outsourcing of services and low spending.

The inspectors also point out that officers and members work well together and demonstrate a purposeful resolve.

The new director took up her post in April 2000, the same week that the inspection process began. The report states that she is working hard to promote a more open partnership between the LEA and its schools, and that steps have already been taken to restructure what isa "lean" central team, sharpen the focus of the development plan and review the monitoring and intervention strategy.

Inspectors conclude that the LEA has the ability to address the weaknesses, but recommended an early re-inspection. Your article states reinspection would be in 18 months when it could be in one, two or three years.

I suggest you present a more balanced article outlining the many positive aspects of the report as well as the negative.

Councillor W J Speechley

Leader, Lincolnshire County Council

The editor writes: we do not accept that our report was inaccurate, or unduly negative. OFSTED told us that Lincolnshire would be reinspected within 18 months which indicates a high level of concern about the authority's performance. Inspectors found "an unacceptably high proportion of schools with identified weaknesses". They also found critical deficiencies in services fundamental to the county's strategy for improving schools. Our report included five of the seven positive points Mr Speechley cites. We did not mention the restructuring carried out by the director where the report says "more work still needs to be done".

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