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Avon Education Authority

Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the Avon Education Authority intends to appoint a chief education officer; and on what conditions.

Yes, I am pleased to say that the Avon Education Authority intends to appoint a new chief education officer as soon as practicable. The conditions are set out in a letter from the Chief Executive of the county of Avon to the Secretary of State, and in a letter from the President of the Society of Education Officers to the Chief Executive, the texts of which are as follows.4th February 1977

Dear Secretary of State
Following the meeting between yourself and the Chairman of the County Council, Chairman Gervas Walker and the Chairman of the Education Committee, Councillor Norman Reece, on 26th January, we have given some further thought to a number of the points discussed.
As we informed you, it is Avon's wish and intention to appoint a new Chief Education Officer as soon as practicable.
Councillor Walker told you that at the first meeting of the County Council in April 1973 he had said that a review of its operation would be timely after about three years. It is intended that as soon as the current budget process is completed, this across-the-board review should be started. It will cover the structure and relationship of the Committees and of the Departments and their inter-relationships and the lines of communication between them. This will relate to all the Departments and Committees including those concerned with land and property and staffing, and the review will necessarily take some time because it must be done with care. It would be wrong to give undue emphasis or priority to any one Department if an improved and balanced whole is to be achieved. Nevertheless, the problems which have been raised as well as those which have been voiced in Education, must clearly receive careful and early attention, and it is the intention of Avon to ensure that a review of these problems is put in hand immediately.
It is also their intention that the Education Committee, when making the appointment of the new Chief Education Officer, should fully explore with the candidates the present form of corporate management within Avon and its possible development. This will ensure that neither the candidates nor the authority should misunderstand their positions and the others views. It is the intention of the two Chairmen that there should be a fair and amicable understanding by all parties so that the new Chief Education Officer should start with the best possible prospects. To this end he will be given a free hand to reorganise his own Department within the arrangements agreed at his appointment.
We are hopeful that these views make Avon's position clear and will enable the appointment to go forward with the full support of Education Officers.

Yours sincerely

W. J. Hutchinson.

10th February 1977

Dear Mr. Hutchinson
I write to confirm what we agreed verbally and, I understand, senior members in Avon have also agreed. You are willing for a copy of the letter of 4th February which you sent to the Secretary of State to be sent to members of the Society of Education Officers. This will enable the Society to agree to your request to tell our members that the application list for the post of Avon Chief Education Officer has been re-opened, and that any request for details and/or further particulars of the post should be sent to you by any member who has not yet applied for the post but who wishes to consider doing so as soon as possible, and that application should be submitted not later than the 1st March. You will send to those who have already submitted an application the additional particulars which you sent to the Society before Christmas and on which my predecessor as President commented in his letter to you of 13th January. You will also send the additional particulars to any other member who now writes to you and additionally to anyone who has not written before, you will send the earlier details which you prepared. Both these documents will be used as a basis for discussion at interviews with selected applicants as foreshadowed in your letter to the Secretary of State.
As you said when we spoke, we should both be surprised if members of the Society who were selected for interview did not ask the Society a number of questions in order to help them in discussion at the interview about the future management of the education service in Avon. This will be a matter for the individuals concerned.
I am sure that we all hope that the new arrangements will lead to a greater awareness of the problems and possibilities for all concerned and that it may, in consequence, be possible to appoint to Avon a Chief Education Officer who will have the confidence not only of the Authority and the Society of Education Officers but also of all the others who are concerned with the education service in Avon.

Yours sincerely

R. P. Harding, President.