In this challenging paper Dr Dick Atkinson asks why local education authorities are needed. Finding reasons lacking, he puts forward a proposal for all schools to be self-governing and thereby removed from the debilitating effects of politicised education.
Is local government involvement in education part of the problem, rather than a solution to falling standards, lack of innovation and inadequate educational opportunity?
Almost all of the services currently provided by Local Education Authorities (LEAs) can be better provided by outside agencies, or within schools themselves.
Where such opportunities are not available, this is ‘a direct consequence of the lingering LEA monopoly’.
If LEAs were to be abolished, more funds would be available for the classroom, schools could become accountable to their communities and customers they serve rather than to ‘remote bureaucrats’, and schools would cease to be part of the ‘dependency culture’.
Hence, the proposal here is that all schools should be made self-governing.
Such schools should be funded equally on a per capita age- and disadvantage-weighted formula.
Self-governing schools can be encouraged to link together into clusters, together providing all their needs which cannot be met individually.
Already, outside of local education authorities, a range of ‘schooling’ opportunities is emerging, including small rural schools, schools for pupils excluded from the mainstream
Such variety could be strengthened and extended if self-government for schools was introduced.
Some ‘steering’ role for local government could remain; however, this would be funded separately from, and have no control over, schools’ budgets.
1997, Studies in Education No. 4, ISBN 978 0 255 36408 9, 86pp, PB