Bolton

13th October 2000 at 01:00
This week's crop of reports about council's education services shows good results alone are not enough to please OFSTED

BOLTON has been praised by inspectors as a "responsive and responsible" authority which is not afraid to tackle tough issues.

Education director Margaret Blenkinsop was singled out for praise and credited with accelerating the pace of change.

Inspectors welcomed the support for struggling schools as well as the authority's review of surplus places in primaries. Most schools had a high level of confidence and trust in the local education authority, inspectors found.

Many schools were content to let the authority support school improvement with central funds. But a few felt frustrated as they sought further delegation and autonomy. Inspectors praised Bolton for recognising this and piloting delegation schemes

Advisers and officers provided schools with good service, often working voluntarily after-hours to get the job done. In fact, as more money is delegated to schools, heads may find they cannot afford to buy the current level of service, inspectors noted.

The LEA should also accept that it did not need to have such a strong presence in schools to know them well.

Standards were close to the national average. But improvement in 14-year-olds' English results and average GCSE points score were below average.

Resources for education were adequate, inspectors said.

Strengths

numeracy support

ICT support

support and training for

governors

Weaknesses

deployment of staff: too much time is spent monitoring the LEA's school improvement

strategies and evaluating its

development plan


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