|Education Bill [HL] - continued||House of Commons|
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Clause 108: supply of information: education maintenance allowances
215. Clause 108 enables the lawful sharing of certain income-related and identity-based information relating to those applying for an education maintenance allowance and those who live in the same household as the applicant and support the education maintenance allowance applicant financially.
216. The purpose of sharing this information is to enable those administering education maintenance allowances to determine the applicant's eligibility for this means-tested allowance by verifying income-related information that has been supplied in support of the application. The intention is to prevent fraud and loss of public monies.
217. The type of information which might be shared is specified in subsection (1) as information held by the Inland Revenue for tax or tax credit purposes and information held by the Department for Work and Pensions and its Northern Irish equivalent, the Department for Social Development, for social security purposes. This information may be supplied directly to the persons specified within subsection (3) for purposes relating to eligibility for education maintenance allowances.
218. Subsection (4) allows persons specified in subsection (3) to supply information received under this clause from the Inland Revenue, Department for Work and Pensions or the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland to any of the persons specified in subsection (5) for purposes relating to eligibility for education maintenance allowances. It also allows those who have received this information to pass it on to those who are actually administering education maintenance allowance schemes. The intention is for the clause to facilitate a single information sharing scheme, enabling the Secretary of State, or any other person specified in subsection (3) to receive information on specific applicants directly from the Inland Revenue and Department for Work and Pensions on behalf of the other administrations and to pass it on to them so that they in turn can pass it on to those administering their education maintenance allowance schemes. The inclusion of subsection (5)(d), (e) and (f) enables information to be passed to any person administering an education maintenance allowance scheme on behalf of the Secretary of State, the Assembly or a Northern Ireland department.
219. Subsection (6) lists the type of information that may be supplied by those specified in subsection (3) or (5) as part of a request for information. The intention is to allow the administrator of an education maintenance allowance scheme to pass sufficient information about an applicant to those holding the relevant income-related information in order to allow that applicant to be identified and the correct information returned.
220. This clause does not make provision for the Scottish Ministers or any person providing services to the Scottish Ministers to supply information specified under subsections (4) or (6) to any other person. The supply of information by the Scottish Ministers is a devolved matter and would need to be provided for in an Act of the Scottish Parliament.
Clause 109: Unauthorised disclosure of information received under clause 108
221. Clause 109 creates an offence for the unlawful disclosure of information received under clause 108. It also sets out those circumstances where the information may be disclosed lawfully. These provisions are similar to those in section 182 of the Finance Act 1989 and section 123 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, which impose criminal sanctions for the unauthorised disclosure of information held by the Inland Revenue or the Department for Work and Pensions.
222. Subsections (3) and (4) set out the penalties in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland for unlawful disclosure of information.
Clause 110: Supply of information: free school lunches etc.
223. This clause allows information held by the Inland Revenue and the Department for Work and Pensions to be passed to the Department for Education and Skills and the Assembly, and ultimately to local education authorities in England and Wales, for use in determining eligibility of claimants for free school lunches and milk.
224. Under sections 512, 512ZA, 512ZB and 512A of the Education Act 1996 (as amended by SSFA 1998 and the Education Act 2002), a pupil is entitled to free school lunches or milk if he/she or his/her parent is in receipt of:
225. Before receiving free school lunches or free milk, a pupil/parent must apply and have eligibility verified. The sharing of data allowed under this clause will allow easier checking of eligibility for free school lunches or milk.
226. Subsection (3) will allow data to be passed from the Inland Revenue and the Department for Work and Pensions to the Department for Education and Skills and the Assembly. Subsection (4) will also allow data to be passed directly from the Department for Work and Pensions to local education authorities.
227. Subsection (5) restricts the onward disclosure of data once it has been supplied by Department for Work and Pensions or Inland Revenue, so that data can only be passed on to local education authorities, or by the Secretary of State to the Assembly (and vice versa), for use in determining eligibility for free school lunches or milk. Subsection (6) allows the data to be passed to a contractor carrying out this function on behalf of a local education authority.
228. Subsection (7) defines eligibility for free school lunches or milk, including in relation to pupils at non-maintained special schools and Academies. Non-maintained special schools and Academies are required to give free school lunches to those eligible, in accordance with the same eligibility criteria as set out above, as a condition of approval (for a non-maintained special school) or of the funding agreement (for Academies).
Clause 111: Unauthorised disclosure of information received under clause 110
229. This clause makes it a criminal offence to disclose data otherwise than as authorised under clause 110. As with clause 109, the clause sets out certain circumstances in which data may lawfully be disclosed.
Clause 112: Power to provide that function of determining eligibility remains with LEA
230. This clause amends an existing power to make an order, so that local education authorities will be legally responsible for determining eligibility for free school lunches, etc. The current Education (Transfer of Functions Concerning School Lunches etc) (England) (No 2) Order 1999 transfers certain duties to schools which have had their budgets delegated. These transferred duties include provision of school lunches and the provision of free school lunches and milk to pupils who are eligible. The corresponding orders for Wales are: the Education (Transfer of Functions Concerning School Lunches) (Wales) Order 1999 (SI 1999/610); and the Education (Transfer of Functions Concerning School Lunches) (Wales) (No 2) Order 1999 (SI 1999/1779). However in Wales these orders only relate to school meals. Any order made under clause 112 would place the responsibility for checking back on the local education authority, even for schools with delegated budgets.
Clause 114: Supply of information about school workforce
231. This clause enables regulations to require or authorise the proprietor of a school, a children's services authority in England or Wales or any person prescribed in regulations to supply information (of a kind prescribed by regulations) to the Secretary of State, the Assembly or prescribed persons. The information will primarily be used for statistical analysis and research, but will also be shared between organisations which have an independent legal right to the information. Details of the categories of information and the format in which it will be expected to be supplied will be available in guidance to be placed on the internet. Examples of the type of data to be supplied are date of birth, ethnicity and pay details.
232. Subsections (1), (2) and (3) give the Secretary of State or the Assembly the power to make regulations that will allow or require certain data to be supplied to specified persons for a particular purpose or purposes. Subsection (2) sets out the persons to whom the data may be supplied. The persons about whom information may be collected are defined in detail in clause 113.
233. Subsection (4) sets out the type of person who can be prescribed under subsections (1), (2) and (3). A person can only be required or authorised to supply data under subsection (1)(c) if he is carrying out functions of a public nature and he may only receive data under subsection (1) if he is carrying out such functions. In order for a third party to be prescribed under subsection (3) as a person to whom the Secretary of State or the Assembly can supply information, that third party must be carrying out functions of a public nature or carrying out research that is expected to be for the public benefit.
234. Subsection (5) describes the circumstances in which data will be shared and for what purpose. The effect of subsection (5) is that a person supplied with data under subsections (1) and (3) may only use the data for evaluation, planning, research or statistical purposes. Additional purposes may also be prescribed in regulations.
235. "Evaluation purposes" is intended to cover those situations where data are used internally by the organisation holding the data in order to formulate policy. For example, in relation to a policy to promote teacher retention in London schools by increasing pay, the database would be used to monitor whether this had been effective.
236. "Planning purposes" could cover the use of data to inform a teacher supply model, with the aim of ensuring that there are sufficient places available on relevant courses so that there are enough teachers with the right skills in schools.
237. "Research purposes" could cover a situation where researchers are studying the deployment of maths and science teachers in schools. At present researchers have to approach schools directly to find out who is teaching these subjects and what sort of qualifications they hold. The database would provide researchers with this information in advance to inform their research.
238. "Statistical purposes" covers situations where data are analysed and then statistics are produced and published in aggregate form.
239. Subsection (6) allows regulations to be made to enable data to be shared between organisations that are already lawfully allowed to hold or be supplied with that data. Examples of the use of subsection (6) are:
240. Subsection (8) gives the Secretary of State and the Assembly the power to make regulations that will prevent persons from disclosing information with which they are supplied under this clause. It also gives the Secretary of State and the Assembly the power to make regulations which will apply the Secretary of State's general default powers under section 497 of the Education Act 1996 to specific bodies. This will allow the Secretary of State or the Assembly to make a declaration and issue directions when a body is failing to discharge its duty to supply information under subsection (1). Subsection (9) provides that this clause does not override or limit existing powers to share information.
Attendance at alternative education provision
Clause 115: Power of governing body to make alternative provision for excluded pupils
241. Section 29(3) of the Education Act 2002 gives the governing body of a school the power to direct a pupil in attendance at that school to attend alternative provision. However, pupils who are excluded from school for a fixed period or are appealing against a permanent exclusion cannot attend a school from which they have been excluded. As a result schools cannot direct such excluded pupils to attend alternative educational provision. This clause amends section 29(3) by extending the governing body's power to direct pupils to attend alternative educational provision if the pupil is not in attendance but is registered at the school.
Clause 116: Failure of a parent to secure regular school attendance of a child at alternative provision
242. This clause inserts a new section (section 444ZA) in the Education Act 1996. New section 444ZA extends the circumstances in which a parent or a carer can be issued with a penalty notice or be prosecuted for failing to ensure that a child for whom he is responsible attends the alternative provision that has been made for the child. This is achieved by applying section 444 of the 1996 Act to these circumstances.
243. Subsection (1) of the new section outlines the circumstances in which sanctions may be used against parents of children who are not registered at a school. This applies to children for whom the local education authority have made arrangements to be educated otherwise than at a school. Should these children not attend alternative provision made for them, local education authorities would have the same powers to prosecute or to issue a penalty notice as they would if the child did not attend the school at which he was registered. It does not apply to children for whom parents have made educational provision in accordance with section 7 of the Education Act 1996.
244. Subsections (2) and (3) of the new section make provision for the use of these sanctions when a pupil is excluded from a school for a fixed period, or is still on the register awaiting an appeal following a permanent exclusion. In the case of pupils excluded from a maintained school or a pupil referral unit under section 52 of the Education Act 2002 this applies where they have been required to attend alternative provision under section 29(3) of that Act.
245. Subsections (4) and (5) of the new section provide that notice of alternative provision may be given to a child's parents by any effective means (in addition to the notice in writing required by subsection (1)(b) or (2)(d)). Use of sanctions as provided for by subsections (1) and (2) would only apply if a child regularly fails to attend the provision after notice to attend it was given.
246. Subsection (6) of the new section provides for a defence for a parent who proves that he is providing suitable education at home or by other means.
247. Subsection (7) of the new section outlines who may grant the child leave of absence from alternative provision.
248. Subsection (8) of the new section defines "relevant school"; the effect is that subsection (2) will apply to a pupil at a school maintained by a local education authority (including a pupil referral unit), an Academy, a city technology college, or a city college for the technology of the arts.
Clause 117: Further amendments
249. This clause introduces Schedule 18.
Schedule 18: Further amendments related to Part 4
250. Paragraphs 1, 3 and 4 of this Schedule make consequential amendments to the Children Act 1989, the Education Act 1996 and the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, extending the relevant provisions of those Acts to pupils for whom alternative provision has been made and to whom new section 444ZA(1) or (2) of the Education Act 1996 (as inserted by clause 116) could apply. The amended provisions relate to: supervision orders; penalty notices; certificates of attendance; and parenting contracts.
251. Paragraph 4 has the effect of enabling the Assembly to make an order which applies to Wales the amended provisions regarding penalty notices.
252. Paragraph 10 amends section 52 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to make provision for the requirements upon local education authorities to prepare budget and outturn statements to relate to a period covering more than one academic or financial year. This would allow the Secretary of State to adjust the requirements in relation to both budget and outturn statements as necessary to reflect the determination of budgets on a three year, academic year basis.
253. Schedule 18 also makes other amendments to primary legislation consequential on provisions contained in Part 4 of the Bill.
PART 5: GENERAL
254. This Part contains general provisions including those relating to the functions of the Assembly, subordinate legislation, general interpretation, repeals, commencement and extent.
Clause 124: Power to make further supplementary, consequential provision etc.
255. This provision enables the Secretary of State by regulations to make such supplementary, incidental, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision as he considers necessary or expedient for the purposes of, in consequence of, or for giving full effect to, any provision of Parts 1 to 4 of the Bill.
256. Where such regulations made by the Secretary of State amend or repeal primary legislation, they must be approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.
257. The Assembly has concurrent powers to make such regulations in relation to Wales.
258. This power is necessary because in relation to some of the areas in the Bill it is likely that consequential amendments will be required that cannot reasonably be anticipated. Provisions in the Bill such as school funding and school organisation affect complex areas of education legislation. In addition the Assembly may, where a provision of this Bill comes into force in relation to Wales, need to modify existing enactments where not all of the relevant previous legislation has been commenced in relation to Wales.
PUBLIC SECTOR FINANCIAL COST AND MANPOWER IMPLICATIONS
259. It is not anticipated that any additional expenditure should fall on the Consolidated Fund or on the National Loans Fund as a consequence of this Bill. In England, there are sufficient resources, either within the Departmental Expenditure Limit or the local government settlement, to cover any costs of the reforms proposed.
260. In Wales, the financial impact of changes and any implications for public sector manpower will be considered by the Assembly as the proposals are brought forward.
261. This Part makes changes to school inspections and the inspection of early years education provision. Ofsted anticipates direct savings of at least £10 million per annum in the cost of school inspections, from the total of £91 million in 2004-5, and a reduction of £4.7 million in the cost of inspection of early years provision, a saving on the total of £83 million in 2004-5. In addition, Ofsted expects to make substantial savings in running costs as the result of structural changes to the organisation, facilitated by the provisions in this Bill. Ofsted is reorganising to deliver the new inspection regime and this will reduce its staffing levels by some 500 posts, most of whom carry out administrative functions, by 2008. The changes to inspections will bring substantial time savings for schools and early years education providers: the changes will reduce preparation time; reduce the length of time inspectors spend in schools to no more than two days; and remove the requirement on schools to produce post-inspection action plans and to arrange a meeting with parents during the inspection.
262. The Bill will give enabling powers to Wales to make changes to inspections in accordance with the new common inspection framework so that inspection will be carried out alongside self-evaluation and be proportionate to the performance of an institution. It is anticipated that this will bring substantial time savings for schools and early years education providers.
263. This Part extends the circumstances in which a local education authority must invite proposals for a new or replacement school. Costs to the Department will be an estimated maximum of £325,000 per annum to cover the provision of a consultancy support package to any promoter of a new or replacement school; there will also be a small additional cost if cases should be referred to the adjudicator. There are sufficient resources, either within the Departmental Expenditure Limit or the local government settlement, to cover any costs of the reforms proposed. The changes will entail some additional work for the school organisation committee which will be required to consider the proposals. However, this increase should not be significant, and existing local education authority funding for school organisation committees will be able to meet any associated costs.
264. Provisions in the Bill to extend the remit of the Teacher Training Agency, including renaming the Agency as the Training and Development Agency for Schools, will not affect the Agency's core funding. In 2005-6 this will rise by over £70 million to £634 million. There are sufficient resources, either within the Departmental Expenditure Limit or the local government settlement, to cover any additional expenditure required by the Agency.
Funding of maintained schools
265. The Bill gives the flexibility for schools to move their accounting to an academic year cycle. It is anticipated that an eventual move to an academic year cycle would entail some minor transitional costs to schools and local authorities, and possibly some minor ongoing costs to local authorities; these will be determined during consultation on regulations.
266. The introduction of the profile will cost the Department between £400,000 and £800,000. The cost to the Department of administering the profile will be determined during pilots, but is likely to be around £0.5 million per annum; there are sufficient resources, either within the Departmental Expenditure Limit or the local government settlement, to cover both of these costs. For schools, there will be savings overall: the minimal time and cost involved in producing the profile will be more than offset by the removal of the requirement to produce a governors' annual report.
Supply of information: education maintenance allowances
267. The Department will transfer around £1.1 million from within the existing Departmental Expenditure Limit to Inland Revenue for the development of the necessary information technology systems. There will be a further £200,000 annual running cost.
Supply of information: free school lunches, etc
268. The Department will transfer around £200,000 from within the existing Departmental Expenditure Limit to Inland Revenue for the development of the necessary information technology systems. There will be a further £40,000 annual running cost. The cost of setting up systems internally are subject to an ongoing feasibility study but will be met from within the existing Departmental Expenditure Limit.
Supply of information about the school workforce
269. The Department will make available £9 million, either from within Departmental Expenditure Limit or from the local government settlement, to assist schools in meeting set-up costs.
SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
270. The Regulatory Impact Assessment analyses the possible impact of the proposals on businesses, charities, voluntary sector organisations and the public sector. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House. It will also be available online at www.dfes.gov.uk/ria and in hard copy from the Department for Education and Skills.
271. The provisions in the Bill are largely focused on public sector reforms. The only significant implications for the private and voluntary sectors arise from the changes to the way Ofsted inspects schools and early years provision. The changes in the Bill will enable Ofsted to implement plans to restructure the delivery of inspections, impacting on businesses providing inspection services under contract to Ofsted. The developments are intended to support Ofsted's drive to reduce costs and promote efficiency through the rationalisation of business processes. The measures are likely to result in a reduction in the number of contractors delivering inspections from their current level of 23, intended to allow contractors a more strategic role in the provision of inspection services. The principle of a market for inspection will remain, preserving competition within the sector.
272. In the public sector, the measures in the Bill are focused on achieving efficiency savings by reducing burdens and through deregulatory measures to promote local accountability and greater autonomy for schools. The greatest financial savings will be made in central government, with Ofsted anticipating savings of £10 million per year under the new inspection regime for schools and £4.7 million per year under the proposals for early years inspections (see financial effects section above). The greatest impact will be in the reductions in workload for those delivering front line services in schools: teachers, head teachers and governors. They will experience a significant reduction in bureaucracy and paperwork as a result of the measures. Quantified estimates of the impact in working hours of each proposal are given in detail full Regulatory Impact Assessment.
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