Sunday, 24 July 2011

Education Bill Update

The Education Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on Wednesday 26 January 2011. It then passed to the House of Lords on Thursday 12 May and passed its second reading there on Tuesday 14 June. It is now in Lords Committee. The Government claim Bill is an important step in implementing education reform programme and helping to create an education system that delivers ever higher standards for all children.

The Bill seeks to implement the legislative proposals in the Department for Education’s schools White Paper, 'The Importance of Teaching' and measures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills relating to skills and the reform of higher education funding. It is therefore a very wide-ranging Bill.

Key areas

Provides for the introduction of targeted free early years care for children under compulsory school age

Makes changes to provisions on school discipline and places restrictions on the public reporting of allegations made against teachers

Abolishes 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 and gives new powers to the Secretary of State as a consequence of some of these changes

Removes certain duties on school governing bodies, local authorities and further education institutions, including the duty on local authorities to appoint school improvement partners

Makes changes to the arrangements for setting up new schools, and amends the Academies Act 2010 to make provision for 16 to 19 academies and alternative provision academies

Includes measures relating to school admissions, school meals, composition of school governing bodies, school inspection, school finance and permitted charges.

School Governance

The Government has reviewed the composition of school governing bodies; this post describes what the Education Bill proposes, the debate in the Commons and a subsequent change of policy.

The Government reviewed the composition of school governing bodies in Autumn 2010 and concluded that the “stakeholder” model of school governance, in use for the last 30 years, should not longer be in primary legislation for all maintained school governing bodies.

The subsequent Education Bill proposed that only parents and the headteacher be guaranteed a place on school governing bodies along with representation of a foundation if there is one. Following debate in the Commons, the Government has decided that staff should be represented on school governing bodies and the local authority also providing the other governors think that a person nominated by the local authority has the skills required by the governing body.

The Government appears to have accepted that the stakeholder model of school governance, admittedly in a reduced form, will continue. There is strength in having all groups with an interest in a school having access through nominated appointees on the governing body. The regulations though are crucial in ensuring that governors will continue to be of sufficient size to ensure that the local community voice can still have a say on the running of local schools.

This blogpost is based on a Children's Services Network policy briefing by John Fowler linked below

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