A LOCAL authority castigated by inspectors only 14 months ago for lacking a school improvement strategy is now well on the way to recovery, according to the Office for Standards in Education.
Barnsley council was criticised in May last year for failing to grasp the need to help schools raise standards and for a complex and inefficient management structure which was not helping raise standards.
But inspectors discovered a transformation when they returned earlier this month.
The Labour-controlled authority had in the intervening months made significant progress in nine of the previous report's 11 recommendations, the inspection team discovered.
A key factor was the implementation of a new management structure, and much of the improvement was linked to the leadership of education director Jean Potter, supported by enthusiastic officers and councillors.
The inspection and advisory service, which the previous report said had neiher the staff nor the expertise to raise standards, had been radically overhauled and was beginning to win the respect of schools.
School funding had been significantly improved, with the authority "passporting" on all of its Government-allocated in-crease in education funds this year, and delegating more money to school budgets.
But it was too early to expect these changes to have an effect on pupils' results, which at GCSE remained well below the national averages. Improvements had not been uniform across all services, the report added.
Management structure overhaul
Communicating with schools
Increasing spending on schools
Improving provision for special educational needs pupils
Improving education for
children in public care
POOR PROGRESS More work needed on
education development plan.
New structure needed for behaviour support work