Politicians may join inspectors

30th March 2001 at 01:00
COUNCILLORS could join the teams inspecting local education authorities under plans being considered by the Office for Standards in Education.

Chief inspector Mike Tomlinson is looking at proposals from the Local Government Association to use elected members from outside an authority to examine its political leadership.

Inspection teams look certain to include an outside chief education officer when the second round of visits begins next year. Both officers and councillors would be given full training.

OFSTED spokesman Jonathon Lawson said "including councillors is a proposal we will look at and think about whether it is practical and sensible." He added: "I don't think there's any doubt we'll go ahead with the involvement of officers."

Graham Lane,chair of the LGA's education committee, said: "Councillors would be able to look at how decisions are taken. Otherwise you've got officials deciding how political decisions should be made."

"They would be able to help LEAs ensure that the political processes did not interfere with the smooth running of the education service."

Politicians have faced OFSTED criticism in a number of authorities. In Leeds, inspectors blamed excessive political interference and mismanagement for the fact that the authority was without a permanent education chief for four years. It also said councillors had been involved directly in awarding money to schools in their wards.

Mr Lawson likened the move to include officers to involving heads on school inspection teams.

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