Education (Wales) Bill 2013

March 27th, 2014

The Bill was agreed by the Assembly on 25 March 2014. As set out in clause 1:

Part 2 makes provision about—

(a) the reform of the General Teaching Council for Wales and its renaming as the Education Workforce Council;

(b) the registration of certain persons who educate children and young people;

(c) the regulation of registered persons, including—

(i) the obligation of registered persons to comply with a code specifying the
standards of professional conduct and practice;
(ii) the action that can be taken against a registered person;

(d) the sharing of information about registered persons.

Part 3 makes provision about—

(a) the fixing of term and holiday dates for schools in Wales;

(b) the times of school sessions;

(c) the appointment of persons to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education in Wales;

(d) education functions of local authorities which, by virtue of section 25 or 26 of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013, are to be treated for all purposes as exercisable by persons directed by the Welsh Ministers.

In future, Welsh local authorities will fix the term dates for community, voluntary controlled and community special schools and also maintained nursery schools. Governing bodies of foundation and voluntary aided schools will fix their own term dates. The local authority will have a duty to co-operate and co-ordinate with governing bodies and other local authorities to ensure that the term dates determined are the same (or as similar as can be) for every maintained school in Wales. The Welsh Ministers will have the power to direct local authorities and governing bodies about term dates.

As for the timing of school sessions, this will be the responsibility of governing bodies. However, Welsh local authorities will have the power to give notice if the local authority considers it necessary or expedient to change the school session times in order to promote the use of sustainable modes of travel or to  improve the effectiveness or efficiency of travel arrangements made, or to be made, by the authority under that Measure.

Note that when introduced, the Bill also contained provisions relating to:

  • the reform of the registration and approval of independent schools in respect of special educational need; and
  • post-16 assessment of educational and training needs and specialist Further Education (FE).

These SEN provisions were removed from the Bill during Stage 2 proceedings.

The Bill is now in the four week period of intimation (26 March – 22 April 2014). During this period:

  • the Counsel General or the Attorney General may refer to the Supreme Court the question whether it is within the Assembly’s legislative competence;
  • the Secretary of State for Wales may make an order prohibiting the Clerk of the Assembly from submitting the Bill for Royal Assent.

As we’ve previously commented on this blog, the Welsh introduction of uniform term dates contrasts with the English move in the other direction. The Deregulation Bill, which is currently in the Commons debate stage, includes in Schedule 15 an amendment to give governing bodies responsibility for fixing term dates.

Rachel Kamm, 11KBW

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