'Exciting' approach lauded

26th January 2001 at 00:00
BLACKBURN with Darwen council has a "remarkable and unique" record of support for schools unparalleled in the country, writes Julie Henry.

Inspectors have heaped praise on virtually all services provided by the education authority, one of the most deprived in the country.

The authority, which is now helping failing Rochdale, inherited a "formidable" legacy of under- performance when established in 1998. But in two years, 15 failing schools had been transformed, with several now judged to be good. The report praised the "high credibility and dynamism of officers". It said: "The authority has engendered a climate of excitement in its schools."

Improvement rates in tests for 11-year-olds and GCSE results were among th highest in the country.

Funding was above Government allocations and delegation to schools was above the national average. Inspectors found the council was also very successful in securing external cash, such as lottery funding.

However, the LEA had more to do to tackle an ethnic imbalance in its schools, with parents of ethnic-minority children left with little choice of secondary. Monitoring of truants was also sometimes lax.

Briefing 24, 25

BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN

STRENGTHS

* Quality of planning and consultation with schools

* Support for schools causing concern

* Literacy and numeracy

* ICT

* Reducing exclusions

* Early years

WEAKNESSES

* Special needs


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