Select Committee on Education and Skills First Report


1. The Government published its White Paper on proposals for schools, Higher Standards, Better Schools for All, on 25 October 2005.[1] This is a major policy initiative, strongly backed by the Prime Minister with a speech the day before publication and a four-page foreword to the document, as well as by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills herself. In oral evidence to the Committee on 2 November 2005 the Secretary of State told us that a Bill to enact those proposals which required legislation would be published early in 2006.[2] We therefore decided to undertake an inquiry as a matter of urgency, and to publish our conclusions by the end of January 2006.

2. We took evidence from the Secretary of State on two occasions, as well as from Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, Minister of State for Schools and 14-19 Learners, and from Stephen Crowne, Acting Director General, Schools Directorate, Department for Education and Skills. The Chairman wrote to all Members of Parliament to ask for their views. We are grateful to all those who replied and their comments have informed our discussions.

3. We also heard evidence from the Local Government Association; Professor Al Aynsley-Green, the Children's Commissioner; Sir Alan Steer, Chairman of the Practitioners Group on School Behaviour and Discipline; the National College for School Leadership; the Training and Development Agency for Schools; the Association of Teachers and Lecturers; NASUWT, National Union of Teachers; the Professional Association of Teachers; the National Association of Head Teachers; the Secondary Heads Association; Unison; the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations; the National Association of School Governors; the National Governors' Council; the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust; Dr Elizabeth Sidwell, Chief Executive, Haberdashers' Aske's Federation; Sue Fowler, Group Employment Adviser, GKN plc; Dr Melvyn Kershaw, Headteacher, Haybridge High School and Sixth Form, Worcestershire; Dr Philip Hunter, Chief Schools Adjudicator; Professor Simon Burgess, University of Bristol; Professor Stephen Gorard, University of York; and Professor John Micklewright, University of Southampton. We also received more than seventy memoranda. We are grateful to all of those who contributed to our inquiry. We are also grateful to Dr Ruth Lupton, Sir Peter Newsam, Professor Alan Smithers and Professor Geoff Whitty who advised us during the inquiry.

1   Cm 6677, DfES 25 October 2005. Back

2   2 November Qq145-146 Back

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Prepared 27 January 2006