London mayor Boris Johnson should be allowed to take strategic control of the city's schools, according to the man who ran the highly successful London Challenge programme.
Sir Tim Brighouse, the former London schools commissioner, was the driving force behind the New Labour initiative to improve standards in the capital's schools, making them some of the highest performing in the country.
Writing in this week's TES, Sir Tim gives his backing to plans set out by Mr Johnson for the mayor's powers to be extended to overseeing schools and ensuring standards remain high.
"Nobody takes a pan-London view. If nothing is done it will be sooner rather than later that we see staff shortages, increasing numbers of isolated, struggling schools and an acute shortage of primary places," he writes.
Giving legislative powers to the mayor and the Greater London Authority would allow Mr Johnson to plan and finance school places, fund a careers service and take over the running of school budgets from central government and the Skills Funding Agency, Sir Tim says.
A report commissioned by the Conservative mayor, published in October, outlined a blueprint for his involvement in education. It included extra funding to improve numeracy and literacy, more summer schools and assistance for free school providers to find sites. Mr Johnson also wants to establish a "gold club" of London schools that are "bucking the trend of low aspiration and underachievement".
Sir Tim writes that the new powers should also include a five-yearly independent review of progress in London, including comparisons with other world capitals, and a set of comparative results that would enable schools to learn from each other. And he said the model proposed for London should be rolled out across the rest of England.
See Comment, pages 46-47.