A throw-away line at the end of an otherwise excellent piece in last week's TES on the Key Stage 3 conference in Brighton and Hove quotes me as being critical of the way the Green Paper 'Building on Success' portrays the role of LEAs. This is not strictly accurate.
I am pleased the Green Paper recognises the importance of the work LEAs do on school improvement. I am glad the improvements of the past four years have been recognised, and particularly welcome the proposal to develop the professional expertise of those involved in this area of work. I also welcome the recognition in the Green Paper that LEAs have an important role to play in linking schools to wider work on social regeneration at the local level.
My only criticism is that this is still rather a timid vision. It does not yet fully reflect the community leadership role which local authorities are expected to fulfil under the Local Government Act 2000. Education, as a key local service, needs to be part of that leadership role, and those working in the service have a right to look to their LEA for a clear sense of direction.
Local authorities are there to make things happen for the local community, and can often do so in exciting and innovative ways. Some of the examples in the Green Paper give a hint of this. But I would prefer to put this strategic leadership role first on the list of the responsibilities of the LEA. It includes, but goes far beyond, the `strategic management' function which the Green Paper currently describes.
Strategic Director, Education and Lifeling Learning
Brighton and Hove City Council