Delegation road has been followed far enough

20th February 1998 at 00:00
George Phipson is wrong to suggest that the additional funding from the grant-maintained "experience" has led to improved standards (TES, February 6).

It is certainly true that the previous Government fixed the funding system to ensure that GM schools received more money than they should have had to replace local authority services. It is also true that there is no body of independent academic research which shows that GM schools have used this money to achieve higher standards when all other factors are taken into account.

GM proponents have long used to good effect unsubstantiated anecdotal evidence to claim that GM schools do better than local authority-maintained schools. The local education authority perspective is rather different: GM schools have taken on a large number of administrative staff at high cost who are inefficiently used and have done very little to raise standards.

The Local Government Association recognises that GM schools, particularly secondary schools, have a problem as we approach fair funding. Secondary schools, on the whole, opted out earlier and were therefore beneficiaries of even greater additional funding compared to the primary GM schools. We are willing to talk to the GM sector about this problem.

The answer, though, is not to push delegation up for all schools to that applying currently in the GM sector, a level of delegation that has anyhow been rejected by 96 per cent of schools.

If the level of delegation was pushed up unreasonably, this would result in a shift of resources from the primary to secondary sector as it is generally agreed that primary schools are greater beneficiaries of LEA support services than secondary schools.

Through your pages, I call on the Government not to adopt the GM model. Unless governors and headteachers everywhere want to spend additional time on bureaucracy, I suggest they should write without delay to Stephen Byers, minister of state for school standards, DFEE, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT, telling him that local management of schools should develop so that schools have sufficient funds to run their own affairs and that the LEAs should be able to provide necessary support services and concentrate on their strategic role.

Some local discretion on which services are delegated is essential; these services should be decided by schools and LEAs working together.

GRAHAM LANE Chair Education committee Local Government Association London SW1

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