Letter: Plight of education

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The theme of the national conference of local education authorities last week was "Tackling Disadvantage". Much thought was given to how all departments in local government could work together to improve the lamentably low standards being achieved by children already disturbed by family failure.

Then along came the Secretary of State for Education to criticise us for failing to put into the education system all the money he said "I have spent many days, weeks and months battling for in cabinet" ("Blunkett in threat to curb local powers", 18 June).

Here in Oxfordshire we are unable to spend on education this year all that Mr Blunkett says we should for the simple reason that if we did we would have to close even more services for the very children the conference focused upon. We are closing family centres and further reducing services for the most vulnerable children - about 400 in the "looked after" system with a similar number on the at-risk register.

I believe Mr Blunkett when he says that he has battled the cause of education in Cabinet. But he is only doing part of his job if he is not fighting for the right of every child to decent standards in both care and schools. For far too long many children have been let down by the failure of national and local services to address their needs as a whole.

TOM RICHARDSON

Labour Education Spokesperson

Oxfordshire County Council

Oxford

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