Takeover list angers councils

12th March 1999 at 00:00
The Local Government Association's bid to run education authorities has failed, reports Clare Dean

A GRANT-maintained schools centre and a company whose maths teacher-training course was failed by inspectors are on the short-list to take over struggling education authorities.

The Centre for Education Management - which has links to the GM movement - and the Centre for British Teachers are now among the front-runners for the job. But an application from the Local Government Association has been rejected, and it is now demanding a meeting with David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary.

Last month its maths distance-learning course was failed by the Office for Standards in Education.

News of the short-list comes just days before Mr Blunkett decides the fate of Hackney in east London. OFSTED is due on Tuesday to deliver a report on progress made since the Government's hit squad left last July (see below).

The Department for Education and Employment has now whittled down the 107 applicants for taking over all or some council services to 18 private, public, profit and not-for-profit bodies.

The original 100 who applied for consultancies to advise schools on services to pupils and parents and responses to inspection has been cut to 13. That short-list also includes CfBT, a non-profit-making private company.

The DFEE is drawing up a list of organisations to manage literacy and numeracy schemes, provide pupil welfare, admissions and financial services.

Should failing council services be handed over to a former GM body, it would encounter hostility.

Graham Lane, who chairs the LGA's education committee, said: "Ex-GM people have about as much chance of running council services as a snowball does of lasting in a furnace."

But Adrian Pritchard, chief executive of CEM, said: "This is a good example of the Government sticking to its pledge of no recrimination against GM."

The LGA has its own improvement and development agency, drawing together expertise from councils and private companies.

A spokesman said: "We find it surprising that our bid . . . has been declined outright while others with far less knowledge in education have been encouraged to 'improve' theirs."

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