Blunkett mollifies LEAs with fresh promises

28 Sep 00
Education Secretary David Blunkett moved to appease local authorities this week after the collapse of his Frontline First policy.

29 September 2000

In his speech to the Labour conference, Blunkett offered a new pledge to work with LEAs on schools reform.

In a mood of contrition almost mirroring that of Tony Blair's earlier speech, Blunkett told delegates that without LEAs vital support services would not be delivered.

'We intend to work with LEAs,' he said. 'We do want them to modernise, but we also recognise that there are things which an education authority has to provide: special needs; educating excluded children; school improvement and school transport.'

He went on to reassure LEAs that their future was secure, despite his earlier attempts to introduce direct funding for schools, which were scuppered by protests from Chancellor Gordon Brown and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

'No government in their right mind would attempt to run 24,000 schools from the centre,' he said. Instead, he warned of the perils of Conservative education policies which he claimed would scrap LEAs and their support services.

Blunkett also saved a number of funding announcements from July's Spending Review, including an extra £1bn to fund a free nursery place for every three-year old by 2004 and £150m to create more adult learning centres.

He also outlined extra capital spending for schools, with the maintenance and modernisation fund increasing from £2bn to £3bn a year in the next three years.


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