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  The role of the local authority

31 August 2011

The main role of the local authority (LA) is to:

  • Ensure sufficient school places are available by building or extending schools
  • Get rid of surplus places by closing or reorganising schools
  • Assess and provide home to school transport
  • Provide support services for schools
  • Assist the government in implementing initiatives and legislation relating to schools, children and families
  • Allocate finance to schools

There was a time when the LA managed all state schools in its area and controlled what schools did. The LA held the budget for its schools and they had to ask for everything they needed. The LA appointed the staff, set the curriculum and inspected the schools.

Those days have long gone and legislation has reduced the role of the LA and strengthened that of schools and the central government department. This department is currently called the Department for Education.

Schools are now largely self-governing. All manage their own budgets; many employ their own staff, own the land and buildings and only come into contact with the LA when they choose to make use of our services. The LA has strict guidelines it has to follow in its relationship with schools. In general, the LA has a closer relationship with community and voluntary controlled schools, because it still employs the staff and sets the admissions criteria.

Parents are often not aware of these changes and think the LA still has the right to intervene in school matters and is refusing to do something about their complaint. This is not the case. All complaints about a school must go through the school’s complaints procedure; this is now the law.