To set the record straight: a total of nine such contracts have been let as a result of intervention by Government.
The Office for Standards in Education has reinspected eight of the local education authorities concerned. All were found to have improved by at least one grade, and four by two grades or more, in circumstances where all the contractors were building from a very low base. There are also some encouraging pupil-performance figures. For example, Bradford primary schools achieved key stage 1 and 2 results in 2002 which, for all but maths at key stage 1, showed greater improvement on 2001 results than the England average.
The Islington performance at GCSE (five A*-C grades) increased by 4.9 per cent, while the England average increased by 1.5 per cent.
There is no panacea for school improvement services - public or private.
Sometimes renewal within the public sector works; sometimes private help is necessary; sometimes neither works.
The Government is committed to finding the right structure in each case, without prejudice in either direction.
David Miliband MP
Minister of state for school standards
Department for Education and Skills
Great Smith Street, London SW1 Governors, 26