Local Education Authority

Local Education Authority

A Local Education Authority (LEA) is the part of a local council, or local authority (LA), in England and Wales that is responsible for education within that council's jurisdiction. The phrase is now obsolete in official use, but is still frequently used informally to refer to the Education Department of the relevant local authority, which has now largely ceased to exist following the statutory requirement under the Children Act 2004 that these councils appoint a Director of Children's Services whose responsibilities include those of the former Education department and what used to be known as Children's Social Services.

Responsible local authority

In Greater London the London borough councils are the local authorities responsible for education; in the metropolitan counties it is the metropolitan borough councils; and in the shire counties it is the county councils or, where extant, the councils of the unitary authorities.


Local education authorities have responsibility of all state schools in their area: they organise funding for the schools, allocate the number of places available at each school and employ all teachers (except for foundation and voluntary aided schools, which, while still funded through the local authority, employ their own staff).

Local education authorities are responsible for the funding of students in higher education (for example undergraduate courses and PGCE) whose permanent address is in their area, regardless of the place of study. Based on an assessment of individual circumstances they offer grants or access to student loans through the Student Loans Company.



The term was introduced by the Education Act 1902 (2 Edw.7, c. 42). The Act designated each local authority; either county council and county borough council; would set up a committee known as a "Local Education Authority" (LEA).Bryne, T., "Local Government in Britain", (1994)] The councils took over the powers and responsibilities of the school boards and technical instruction committees in their area. Municipal boroughs with a population of 10,000 and urban districts with a population of 20,000 were to be local education authorities in their areas for elementary education only. The LEAs' role was further expanded with the introduction of school meals in 1906 and medical inspection in 1907.

In 1904 the London County Council became a local education authority, with the abolition of the London School Board. The metropolitan boroughs were not education authorities, although they were given the power to decide on the site for new schools in their areas, and provided the majority of members on boards of management.


The system continued unchanged until 1965, when the London County Council was replaced by the Greater London Council. The twenty outer London boroughs became local education authorities, while a new Inner London Education Authority, consisting of the members of the GLC elected for the inner boroughs covering the former County of London was created. [Saint, A., "Politics and the people of London: the London County Council (1889-1965)", (1989)]

In 1974 local government outside London was completely reorganised. In the new metropolitan counties of England, metropolitan boroughs became LEAs. In the non-metropolitan counties the county councils were the education authorities, [Redcliffe-Maud & Wood, B., "English Local Government Reformed", (1974)] as they were throughout Wales.

In 1986, with the abolition of the Greater London Council, a directly elected Inner London Education authority was formed. This, however, only existed until 1990, when the 12 inner London boroughs assumed responsibility for education.

In 1989, under the Education Reform Act 1988, the LEAs lost responsibility for higher education, with all polytechnics and colleges of higher education becoming independent corporations.

A further wave of local government reorganisation during the 1990s lead to the formation of unitary authorities in parts of England and throughout Wales, which became local education authorities. [Jones, B. et al, "Politics UK", (2004)]

The Education and Inspections Act 2006 includes a clause which allows for the future renaming of Local Education Authorities as Local Authorities in all legislation, removing the anomaly of one local authority being known as a local authority, a local education authority, and a children's services authority.

List of local authorities responsible for education by region

There are currently 150 local education authorities in England. Below they are listed alphabetically by region. [ [http://www.dfes.gov.uk/studentsupport/students/lea_lea_contact_det.shtml Department for Education and Skills] - LA Contact Details]

ee also

*Special education#England and Wales
*Special education#Scotland
*Special school


External links

* [http://www.dfes.gov.uk/learole/policypaper/ DfES: The Role of the Local Education Authority in School Education]

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