Hackney loses control of its schools
Saturday 20 March 1999
A political row broke out after David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, said he would "not sit by and watch public funds wasted on ineffective services" after a second damning report on Hackney's education service.
The east London borough's political leaders accepted Mr Blunkett's decision to send in consultants to prepare for contractors to take over school improvement services.
Labour and opposition MPs called the move undemocratic. Diane Abbott, the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, accused Ministers of "experimenting" with Hackney. Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat's education spokesman, said the move was "making the first step towards breaking the link in the democratic process between the electorate and its local representatives".
Local government leaders said they were taking legal advice. Graham Lane, education chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "This is a minefield. It affects the whole of local government."
Mr Blunkett's action is the first time the Government has used new powers to take over local authority services. He said he was "minded" to force Hackney to contract out its school improvement service and its language and learning service. Other authority functions, including financial management, personnel and information technology, may also be contracted out.
A report by the Office for Standards in Education said the borough had improved, but warned: "This is a local education authority which is still failing, well over a year after a highly critical inspection, to provide key elements of the help schools need ... improvement to date has been hard won and is neither sufficient nor sufficiently broadly based."
Consultants will now draw up specifications for private firms, not for profit organisations or local authorities to take over some council services. Ministers will put contracts out to tender. The Department for Education and Employment will choose a contractor.
Hackney Council called the Ofsted report "fair and balanced" and said it would work in partnership with the Government, adding: "We are willing to explore any avenue which will raise educational achievement in the borough."
Diane Abbott told the Commons: "It won't do for ministers to say they are doing this on behalf of Hackney parents and children when they have not come to Hackney, not consulted local people and certainly not consulted local MPs. "
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
MH17 crash: Investigators discover more human remains and 'huge section of plane'
Susan Sarandon on David Bowie romance: 'He's worth idolising'
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Exclusive: Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...