Headteacher attacks LEA over ruling

A HEADTEACHER has called for the abolition of local education authorities after his school's admissions policy was successfully challenged.Terry Creissen said Essex County Council had been wrong to object to the system used in granting over-subscribed places at the Colne Community School in Brightlingsea, which was upheld by the national schools adjudicator.

By Roddy Ashworth

A HEADTEACHER has called for the abolition of local education authorities after his school's admissions policy was successfully challenged.

Terry Creissen said Essex County Council had been wrong to object to the system used in granting over-subscribed places at the Colne Community School in Brightlingsea, which was upheld by the national schools adjudicator.

Governors at the school had introduced an admissions policy which gave greater weight to the Colne being parents' first choice for their children's education than simply the distance they lived from it.


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But Essex County Council - the local education authority (LEA) - referred the matter to the adjudicator, claiming it was unfair to some parents who lived close to the school but had not put it down as a first choice.

After it was announced yesterday that the objection had been upheld, Mr Creissen hit out at the LEA, saying it was full of bureaucrats, was a waste of money and should be abolished.

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"We felt as a governing body that people who wanted to put their children at our school as their first choice should actually have first choice.

"That admission criteria went to the schools adjudication officer last year and it was agreed those parents should have first choice as long as they lived within the school's transport catchment area.

"Then Essex LEA went to the adjudicator and said they thought we were acting against parental choice.

"I've got an IQ of 159 but I can't see the logic of that."

Mr Creissen added: "It is bureaucratic nonsense and the sooner they abolish LEAs and give the powers to the governing bodies the better for both pupils and parents.

"The LEA is made up of bureaucrats, not educationalists. People like (schools minister) David Miliband are saying headteachers and governors know best and are in the best position to make decisions about their schools, but then the LEAs ride roughshod over that and totally ignore it.

"I have got a governing body and I am accountable to them. My governors are people who understand the school. I do not want to have to justify myself as well to people on the LEA, who have perhaps visited the school once. They hinder rather than help. The money going to them should come directly to the schools."

However a spokesman for the LEA defended the organisation. "From time to time we challenge admissions procedures in order to try and ensure all children have a fair chance of getting a place at their chosen school," he said.

"That is a duty we, as the LEA, take very seriously - as the people of Essex would rightly expect.

"With a new system of processing applications for schools just around the corner, in which all applications go through the LEA, that responsibility has become even more paramount.

"In terms of what the LEA does, the list is fairly exhaustive.

"The LEA overseas home-to-school transport, legal issues, personnel issues, school organisations, term arrangements, target setting and monitoring, education welfare and support, expert advice on bullying, behaviour and attendance, social inclusion, building new schools, improving existing schools and helping failing schools.

"Then there's the work the LEA does to attract teachers to the county, training new teachers, dealing with parental complaints about individual schools, supporting governors and governing bodies, dealing with excluded children, assisting in checks with the Criminal Records Bureau, overseeing home education, advising on health and safety and so on.

"That much of the work of LEAs goes largely unseen does not mean a plethora of work vital to the education of our children is not carried out by them."

The schools adjudicator also upheld an Essex County Council objection to admission criteria for Philip Morant School in Colchester.

The LEA had objected to the school's provision for some priority children who have one parent or guardian living in certain areas, rather than the children themselves.

It also objected to priority being given to children of staff, a lack of provision for children in public care and to some aspects of a supplementary information form which goes with applications.

Nobody from the Philip Morant School was available for comment last night.

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