Committed to improvement
Their main points were:
* There was a clarity of vision with school improvement at its heart, a strong commitment to working in partnership with schools and a determination to raise standards across the authority.
* The authority performed almost all of its functions satisfactorily and strengths considerably outweighed weaknesses.
* Pupils' results were above the national average in all main subjects at age seven, but only matched the national average for 11 and 14-year-olds. Pupils' progress between infant school and the third year of secondary school was below the national average. GCSE results were in line with national standards.
* Although the authority had a clear strategy for school improvement and was improving, they criticised procedures for identifying weaker schools and intervening to sort out problems.
* The contracted-out payroll service was plagued with errors and some staff had to wait too long.
* The work of senior officers and councillors was praised, as was the close working relationship with schools.
* Centrally-retained spending was very low.
* The change from a three to two-tier structure was "being managed very effectively".
* Northamptonshire's strategy to promote inclusiveness was "bold and innovative". All support for social inclusion and special educational needs has been brought together under a single department which promised to improve co-ordination. North-amptonshire's support for pupils with special educational needs, pupil attendance, its anti-racist policies and work with pupils from ethnic minorities and traveller children, were key strengths.
* The inspectors concluded that: "Northamptonshire has already demonstrated its ability to manage change effectively. The senior officers provide effective leadership and have the capacity and capability to address the recommendations made in this report."