The House of Lords has made minor amendments (proposed by the Government) to the Education and Adoption Bill at the Third Reading. The amendments will be considered by the House of Commons on 23 February 2016, as the Bill enters the Ping Pong stage.
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).
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).
Eagle-eyed readers will doubtless have spotted that the Education Bill is now the Education Act. It received Royal Assent yesterday, 15th November 2011. Practitioners will no doubt warmly welcome a further 83 sections and 18 schedules of education legislation.
How much of it is already in force, and when the rest will come into force, is determined by section 82, to which readers should direct their attention. One provision which came into force yesterday is section 58, the late amendment designed to tidy up the confusion over local authorities’ continuing PFI payments in respect of Academies (see Clive Sheldon’s earlier post on the subject here).
The DfE has a webpage on the Act and supporting documents (including, for those who are interested in these things, the Equality Impact Assessment) here, and you can read and download a pdf copy of the Act from the legislation.gov.uk website here.
The Education Bill is edging closer to becoming law. It was amended at Report stage in the Lords and the provisional date for the third reading is 14 November 2011. Based on proposals in the DfE’s White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, with the higher education funding proposals coming from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (the one that seems to change its name most frequently). This is the second major legislative of the coalition following last year’s Academies Act 2010. Next year we are promised major reforms to the special needs regime following the Green Paper, Support and Aspiration: a New Approach to Special Educational Needs and Disability – a Consultation (covered in my recent paper at http://www.11kbw.com/articles/docs/EducationgreenpaperTK.pdf).
Some readers may need reminding of the Bill’s main themes:
- targeted free early years care for children under compulsory school age
- changes to school discipline and restrictions on public reporting of allegations against teachers
- abolition of five quangos: the General Teaching Council for England, the Training and Development Agency for Schools, the School Support Staff Negotiating Body, the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and the Young Person’s Learning Agency; the Secretary of State taking over some of their functions
- removal of some duties of governing bodies, local authorities and further education institutions, including the demise of “school improvement partners”
- changes to the arrangements for setting up new schools and academies; amendment of the Academies Act 2010 (already) to make provision for 16 to 19 academies and “alternative provision” academies
- a miscellany of measures on admissions, school meals, composition of governing bodies, school inspections, school finance and permitted charges.
Those thirsting for more detail may quench it at http://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/departmentalinformation/educationbill/a0073748/education-bill and http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/education.html .
As readers of this blog may have seen, the government’s new Education Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on 26th January 2011. You can view the Bill and the Explanatory Notes to it (prepared by DfE) from this page. The Bill makes amendments to the existing education law statutes (interestingly, as you can see from the Glossary in the explanatory notes, there have been, excluding the Children Act 1989, 16 education statutes in 18 years, from the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 to the Academies Act 2010. The torrent of legislation seems set to continue under the present government) and takes forward proposals in the White Paper The Importance of Teaching, published in November last year.
There has, so far, not been a lot of media coverage of the Bill, although there is a good general introduction on the BBC news website. That article includes a number of quotes from the Secretary of State which can also be read in the press release on the DfE website. It also notes that the Labour party has accused the government of “going back to the 1950s” in the Bill, although Stephen Ball in this article in the Guardian finds the Bill taking us “back to the 19th century”. The Daily Mail meanwhile focuses on the Bill’s proposals to give pre-charge anonymity to teachers facing accusations from pupils.
Away from the political controversy that the Bill will undoubtedly generate, 11KBW’s education law group will soon be hosting a seminar on the legal changes that the Bill will bring if passed. Watch this space for details.