Ministers struggle to keep all red-tape promises

9th July 2004 at 01:00
More than a fifth of the measures to cut red-tape in schools promised by ministers 18 months ago have yet to be implemented, says a report published this week.

Streamlined admissions procedures and a clampdown on inaccurate exam marking were among 125 actions to reduce bureaucracy in schools set out by the Government in a Cabinet Office report published in March last year.

So far, 97 have been implemented despite the second report, Making a difference - red tape and bureaucracy in schools second report, making clear that all but 10 should now have been completed.

The progress report from the implementation review unit, a panel of serving school staff which advises the Government on workload issues, said the remaining 18 have "experienced some slippage" or become part of modernisation programmes.

These programmes include the "new relationship with schools", promised by minister David Miliband, last month. Pledges yet to be met include:

* streamlining security vetting procedures for staff;

* new guidance on the level of detail required from teachers when marking coursework;

* revised system for applications for special consideration and arrangements, for example for illness or bereavement, for pupils sitting exams.

The last of these is not expected to be implemented until 2007.

Chris Nicholls, chair of the unit, said: "In general I think we have made pretty good progress.

We will be keeping the pressure on to ensure that those actions not yet done will be put in place."

David Hart, National Association of Head Teachers general secretary, said:

"The report on the Government's efforts to cut bureaucracy reads 'trying hard, could do better'.

"The new relationship with schools will only work if heads see a substantial reduction in red-tape."

The report praises the Government for its work in reducing the paperwork required from schools applying for specialist status, and for cutting the volume of documents sent to schools.

Application forms for schools bidding for specialist status have been slimmed down from 50 to 16 pages and the accompanying guidance from more than 190 to fewer than 60 pages, it says.

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