Education and Adoption Bill published

June 4th, 2015

The Education and Adoption Bill was presented to Parliament on 3 June 2015.  The proposed legislation would make the following changes to education law in England and Wales.No date has been announced yet for the second reading.

The circumstances in which the Secretary of State can intervene in a maintained school

The Bill would provide for intervention in maintained coasting schools (clause 1). Note that there is no definition on the face of the Bill of a coasting school, save that the school has been notified that the Secretary of State considers it to be a coasting school. There would be a power for the Secretary of State to include a definition in regulations. There has been much media coverage of this proposal e.g. in the Guardian here and here, the BBC here  and here, and the Daily Mail here.

The Bill also would enable the Secretary of State (as well as the local authority) to give a warning notice to a maintained school about performance standards, a breakdown in governance or safety under section 60 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (clause 2). A warning from the Secretary of State would trump any previous warning notice given by the local authority and prevent the local authority from giving a warning notice.

Governing bodies would no longer have the right to make representations to the Chief Inspector about a warning notice given under section 60 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (clause 2). Similarly, governing bodies would not have the right to make representations to the local authority about a warning notice about teachers’ pay and conditions under section 60A of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (clause 3).

Types of intervention

The Bill would enable the Secretary of State (as well as the local authority) to require a maintained school that is eligible for intervention (except in relation to teachers’ pay and conditions) to contract/arrange to receive advice from a specified person, to collaborate with another school or further education body, or to take steps to join/create a federation (clause 4).

Where a local authority was appointing interim executive members of a governing body, the Bill would enable the Secretary of State to direct a local authority about who to appoint as interim executive members, how many to appoint, their terms and conditions, and termination of appointments (clause 5).

There would be provision about  the inter-action of the various Secretary of State and local authority interventions (clause 6).

Academy conversions

Importantly, the Bill would amend the Academies Act 2020 to require the Secretary of State to make an academy order if a maintained school was eligible for intervention by virtue of section 61 or 62 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (schools requiring significant improvement or schools requiring special measures) (clause 7) – see media coverage in the Telegraph, Guardian and BBC.

The requirement to consult before academy conversion would be limited by the Bill. It would provide  for the governing body (and not the proposed sponsor) to consult about whether an academy conversion should take place before a school is converted into an academy. However there would be no requirement for consultation about whether an academy conversion should take place where the Secretary of State was required to make the academy order by virtue of clause 7 (clause 8). Instead, the Secretary of State would have to consult the trustees, the person who appointed the foundation governors and any applicable appropriate religious body  about the identity of the sponsor (clause 9).

Where there was an academy order, the Bill would require the governing body and local authority to take all reasonable steps to facilitate the conversion of the school into an academy and to facilitate the making of academy arrangements with any specified person (clause 10). The Secretary of State would have the power to direct the governing body and local authority to take specified steps to facilitate conversion (clause 11).

Finally, the Bill would enable the Secretary of State to revoke an academy order (clause 12).

Rachel Kamm, 11KBW, @kamm11kbw

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