State of private performance

18th April 2003 at 01:00
Your article "Enemies of the state in retreat" (TES, April 4) created a misleading impression of the performance of private contractors in delivering education services.

To set the record straight: a total of nine such contracts have been let as a result of intervention by Government.

The Office for Standards in Education has reinspected eight of the local education authorities concerned. All were found to have improved by at least one grade, and four by two grades or more, in circumstances where all the contractors were building from a very low base. There are also some encouraging pupil-performance figures. For example, Bradford primary schools achieved key stage 1 and 2 results in 2002 which, for all but maths at key stage 1, showed greater improvement on 2001 results than the England average.

The Islington performance at GCSE (five A*-C grades) increased by 4.9 per cent, while the England average increased by 1.5 per cent.

There is no panacea for school improvement services - public or private.

Sometimes renewal within the public sector works; sometimes private help is necessary; sometimes neither works.

The Government is committed to finding the right structure in each case, without prejudice in either direction.

David Miliband MP

Minister of state for school standards

Department for Education and Skills

Sanctuary Buildings

Great Smith Street, London SW1 Governors, 26

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