I was most pleased to read your report on OFSTED's inspection of education in Southampton. Your report rightly identified the praise given to the leadership and management in the city and suggested that it ""had brought the authority to the brink of success".
I hope you will afford me the opportunity to present a fuller picture of what OFSTED and the Audit Commission said about Southampton. They said:
This is a good LEA; action focused, with the right priorities and mechanisms for delivering them. Sharper and more precise planning could now help it to move faster towards its goals and become a very good LEA.
Strengths significantly outweighed weaknesses.
The LEA carries out many of its functions well and some extremely well.
Against the backdrop of a shared view of what the city could become and the role that education should play, the LEA has established excellent communication and solid partnership with its schools, and it is on this basis that it has proceeded to grapple with difficult issues.
Improvement has been rapid, and has outstripped the national rate (in the primary phase).
The LEA has espoused the government's drive to raise standards enthusiastically, and working through the chief inspector and education quality services, has supported schools' efforts to improve. Supporting school self education has promoted autonomy and established a climate of striving for improvement.
These are but a few examples of the exemplary practice that was identified during our inspection. We asked for a fair and rigorous inspection and a fair report that would help us to become "even better". We consider that we received these. The helpful and constructive recommendations about aspects of our planning; our need to maximise joint working more and the view that we should focus more on GCSE attachment are all shared by us and are not surprises.
Executive Director for Education and Employment
Southampton City Council