Keep skills in the LEA family

14th July 2000 at 01:00
IN your comprehensive news coverage (TES, June 30), local politicians were being pilloried by the chief inspector of schools and councils were stereotyped as "town hall robbers".

It seems neither Chris Woodhead, who advocates "minimalist LEAs" and maximum privatisation as the only model, nor the Department for Education and Employment, which believes local education authorities only spend money on "red tape", is prepared to give credit where credit is due.

However, MPs on the education select committee, having collected evidence and on the basis of rigorous questioning of the key players, has a much more measured attitude. Their report points out that the private sector is not "inherently more skilled ... than the public sector" (TES, July 7) - and indeed the private sector recruits its education staff direct from LEAs.

Equally importantly the select committee recommends that the Government should establish a scheme to allow highly experienced LEA officers to support under-performing authorities.

The Society of Education Officers, with others, has been developing a variety of models to enable LEAs to support others, including the establishment of a "cadre" of high-quality administrators.

So far, for the financial reasons identified by the committee, it has not been possible to implement such a model, although the Secretary of State is currently considering our proposals.

In terms of value for money, seconding staff within the LEA "family" will surely be much more cost effective than supporting the overheads of the private sector.

Chris Waterman

General secretary

Society of Education Officers

Boulton House

17-21 Chorlton Street, Manchester

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today