11th August 2000 at 01:00
TALKING of the great man, Woodhead was sadly absent when OFSTED travelled to Manchester for a seminar on its latest work-in-progress, that controversial report on the role of local education authorities.

He presented it to the press in London, of course, delivering the startling verdict that LEAs don't make a jot of difference and frankly you might as well get rid of the lot and leave it all to OFSTED.

But he couldn't make it up north, where - surprise, surprise - council officers found HMIs far more upbeat about their contributions to raising standards.

David Singleton, OFSTED's head of localauthority inspections, reportedly said that the draft now out to consultation was "a first shot and an imperfect one".

He even admitted that the first LEA inspections - used by Woodhead to make his assertions - had been loaded to ensure the worst councils were seen first.

Critics say the report does nothing to suggest how local authorities can help schools improve - which was after all supposed to be the aim. Singleton apparently admitted as much and praised Warwickshire, Tower Hamlets and others for their work.

One hopes that Chris isn't too out of touch with the rest of his team.

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