Education: Hackney school hit squad upset

A government "hit squad" sent into a failing London education authority is being accused by councillors of confrontation-seeking and treating members and officers with contempt.

Conservative and Liberal-Democrat members of Hackney Council will criticise the actions of the improvement team at an education committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow evening.

Local government leaders last night feared councillors could join with representatives of Hackney New Labour, a breakaway group expelled from the national Labour party, to reject recommendations made in the team's interim report, placing the council in confrontation with the Government.

The four-strong improvement team, sent into the authority by ministers in September, last week called for urgent action to appoint a director of education. Hackney was given two weeks to scrap its "fancy and trendy management structure".

The Tory and Lib-Dem motion attacked the "hit squad" for releasing its findings to the press before allowing council officers and members to see them.

"This is clearly an attempt to undermine the council's integrity and provoke confrontation", the resolution says.Despite the fact that "officers have co-operated and worked in partnership and offered every assistance to the Government's improvement team, they are now treating council officers and members with contempt", the motion concludes.

The motion was last night condemned by Graham Lane, chair of the Local Government Association's education committee. He said: "These people are bringing local government into disrepute. If they decide on bonfire night to try and join Guy Fawkes and blow up the government they will see fireworks."

Conservative councillor Isaac Leibowitz, who moved the motion criticising the improvement team, last night said he had not yet read its report. He said: "We are concerned to take any steps which will improve education standards for the children of Hackney."

- Lucy Ward

Education Correspondent