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Woodhead warning shakes top performer

REDBRIDGE

This week's crop of reports about council's education services shows good results alone are not enough to please OFSTED

A LOCAL authority with the fifth-best GCSE results in the country last year has been warned by the chief inspector of schools that it is in a "precarious" position.

Redbridge, in north-east London will be revisited by the Office for Standards in Education in two years, despite pupil attainment which was average or above at all levels except A-level.

Schools were doing well, but this was despite fundamental problems in the local education authority, according to inspectors. In recent years there had been a severe deterioration in the relationship between Redbridge and its schools.

The chief education officer position was a "third-tier" post in the authority up until January, meaning that the top education official took no part in strategic planning.

Elected members had spent less on education than they had received from the Government, holding back more than pound;10 million over the past four years to spend on other councl services.

Headteacher morale was low and inspectors questioned the relevance of the authority's education development plan.

However, teachers valued the support and guidance of individual officers and inspectors found that most of the authority's services were competent or better.

The report said: "The LEA needs, above all, a sea-change in attitude. The whole is less than the sum of the parts because there is a recent legacy of mistrust."

A quarter of Redbridge's wards are among the wealthiest in England, though two have relatively high levels of deprivation. Half of the population are from ethnic-

minority communities. Strengths

recruitment and induction of newly-qualified teachers

services for excluded pupils

support for school attendance

support for ethnic-minority pupils

Weaknesses

targeting of cash to priorities

support for information and communications technology

speed, openness and effectiveness of decision-making

quality of leadership given by elected members and some senior officers

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