some default text...

Education and Inspections Bill


[back to previous text]

Mr.Gibb: I am happy with the Minister’s assurances andI am grateful for his full and clear response. We share theGovernment’s concern on how to deal with schools that areunderperforming or causing concern, and we therefore agree with thepolicy of withdrawing delegated budgets from such schools and fromgoverning bodies that do not handle their budgets properly. In light ofthat and the Minister’s assurances, I beg to ask leave towithdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave,withdrawn.
Schedule5 agreedto.
Clause 45ordered to stand part of theBill.

NewClause18

Powersof local education authority in respect of supportservices
‘(1) A localeducation authority in England may make such provision as it thinks fitto ensure the availability to schools maintained by it of education andchild-related supportservices.
(2) Services madeavailable under this section mayinclude—
(a) servicesfor children with special educational needs, looked after children andchildren educated otherwise than inschool;
(b) behaviour supportservices;
(c) educationalpsychology services;
(d)curriculum advisory services;and
(e) such other services asthe authority may consider desirable.'. —[Mr.Chaytor.]
Broughtup, and read the First time.
Mr.Chaytor: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Secondtime.
The new clauseis straightforward. Both the Bill and the original education WhitePaper published last October place considerable emphasis on the newstrategic role of local authorities as champions of parents and pupils,and as the agents by which standards in schools will be improved.However, nowhere in the Bill is there a description of the precisefunctions of local authorities. New clause 18 would do that. It wouldenable each local authority to decide, as it thinks fit, whether itshould provide facilities for children with special educational needs,behaviour support facilities, educational psychology services, curriculumadvisory services or other support services to schools.
There is an analogy to be drawnwith the original provisions in the White Paper on local authoritiesnot being able to promote new community schools, and the finalagreement that was reached, under which they would be allowed topromote them subject to a quality threshold—exactly the samearguments that applied to the debate on their powers to promotecommunity schools are applicable to their powers to offer the variousadvisory services. I should be interested to hear what the Minister hasto say about incorporating those specific functions of localauthorities into the Bill.
GregMulholland (Leeds, North-West) (LD): The new clause issimple but important. The Bill does not put enough emphasis onsupporting schools in the areas that it covers, and the provisionaddresses the lack of detail with a comprehensive list of the relevantservices. We support it, because it clarifies and strengthens thestrategic role of local authorities that we think is soimportant.
JimKnight: Local authorities are central to the vision thatwe set out in the White Paper, as the champions of pupils and parentsand through their role as strategic commissioner and guardian ofstandards, which are all within their new duties to promote choice anddiversity and high standards, and the fulfilment of the potential ofall children in their area. The Education and Skills Committeerecognised that in its report when itsaid:
“It isclear that local authorities will continue to have a vital role in theorganisation of education in their areas. Rather than having their rolereduced, local authorities have significant and even increasedresponsibilities.”
Given that new role, Iunderstand why my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North wants toensure that local authorities have the necessary powers to carry outtheir challenging agenda. It is our opinion that local authoritiesalready have wide powers to do that, including in those areas ofactivity specified in the new clause. They have wide powers to supportschools as they see fit, and to respond effectively to local needs.Those can be found in the Education Act 1996, the Local Government Act2000, the Children Act 2004 and the School Finance (England)Regulations 2006.
Ihope that what I have said is sufficient to reassure my hon. Friend.Although I sympathise with what he is trying to achieve, it is notnecessary and might fetter the ability of local authorities to providesupport services tailored to the individual needs of their localschools and children.
Mr.Chaytor: I am grateful for those reassurances and beg toask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion and clause, by leave,withdrawn.

NewClause56

Useof property held in trust for purpose of primaryeducation
‘A local authoritywhich holds property as a trustee for purposes to which the ElementaryEducation Act 1870 applied may apply the capital and income of suchproperty for the purposes of primary education.'. —[Dr.Blackman-Woods.]
Broughtup, and read the Firsttime.
Dr.Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab): I beg tomove, That the clause be read a Second time.
I tabled the new clause tohighlight the issue of funds accruing under the Elementary EducationAct 1870 that local authorities cannot use for primary education.Apparently, the Act states that local authorities are trustees ofproperties built under the Act, but when those properties are sold thelocal authority cannot reinvest the money in supporting primaryeducation in the local authority area. I know that a number of localauthorities have money in accounts which they would like to use tosupport primary education or new building.
If the Minister cannot acceptthe new clause, I should be grateful if the Department could considerways of dealing with the problem by some othermeans.
JimKnight: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for explainingwhat lies behind the new clause. It is right that when educational landor assets are sold the proceeds should be reinvested in improvingeducational provision. I know that one or two of my hon. Friends areconcerned about that, and I am happy to explore the problem with myofficials. It would probably help us if my hon. Friend and others whoare concerned about this met us so that we can pursue the matter andsee whether there is a way of resolvingit.
Dr.Blackman-Woods: I am very grateful to my hon. Friend forthat invitation. I beg to ask leave to withdraw themotion.
Motion andclause, by leave,withdrawn.

Clause46

Meaningof “maintained school” and “elgible forintervention”
SarahTeather: I beg to move amendment No. 507, in clause 46,page 34, line 22, at endinsert—
‘(1A) In this part“relevant school” means any of the following schools inEngland—
(a) anAcademy,
(b) a city technologycollege, or
(c) a city collegefor the technology of thearts.'.
TheChairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss thefollowing amendments: No. 508, in clause 47, page 34, line 30, after‘school', insert ‘or other relevantschool'.
No. 509, inclause 47, page 35, line 9, after ‘school', insert ‘orother relevantschool'.
No. 510, inclause 48, page 36, line 19, after ‘school', insert ‘orother relevantschool'.
No. 511, inclause 49, page 36, line 36, after ‘school', insert ‘orother relevantschool'.
No. 512, inclause 50, page 37, line 6, after ‘school', insert ‘orother relevantschool'.
No. 513, inclause 51, page 37, line 37, after ‘school', insert ‘orother relevantschool'.
No. 514, inclause 52, page 39, line 6, after ‘school', insert ‘orother relevantschool'.
SarahTeather: The amendments deal with a recurrent theme oftrying to determine how the Bill applies to all schools, includingacademies and city technology colleges. We know that there are as manyfailing or coasting academies as there are good schools in themaintained sector. When we discussed school improvement partners, theright hon. Member for Redditch suggested that because the Secretary ofState was the maintaining authority for academies, the Secretary ofState would directly appoint SIPs.
We have tabled the amendmentsto probe the Government on how the provisions in clauses 46 and 47would apply to academies and city technology colleges. Will thisrequire another set of amendments to each funding agreement? Is thatnot an extremely complicated way of making the changes? Would it not beeasier simply to accept our amendment? I know that it would go verymuch against the grain for the Government to accept any amendment fromthe Liberal Democrats, but perhaps it would be easier to amend the Billand ensure that the provisions apply to allschools.
Maintainingacademies would mean that, when the 100 new academies open, theDepartment for Education and Skills would be the largest provider of11-to-16 education in the country. I should be interested to see howthe Secretary of State manages to juggle all of those responsibilitiescompared with local authorities and whether the Department willcontinue to berate local authorities for their performance with quitethe enthusiasm that it has done in thepast.
JimKnight: I recognise the hon. Lady’s motives fortabling the amendments. I will not go through them individually becausethere is not enough time, but they are unnecessary. The types of stateschool in question must be outside the local authority system. Theyhave deliberately been made non-maintained schools, with independentgovernance and sponsor bodies. That independence affords them thefreedoms and flexibilities to raise standards in schools where therehas been prolonged under-achievement. Indeed, academies are improvingthree times faster than the national average at GCSE. We cannot accepta situation wherein, if a non-maintained school is deemed inadequate,the local authority takes over again. That would not only go back onthe fundamental principle of independence, but it would in many cases putthe school back in the hands of an authority that failed to address thesystemic failure of its predecessor school.
The Bill provides fornon-maintained school proprietors—often the controllingtrust—to take action immediately when the school gets aninadequate judgment from Ofsted inspectors. Proprietors are required toproduce a statement of action setting out how they will secureimprovements at the school, build the capacity of the school’smanagement team, involve registered parents in the planning process anddetermine what support the school requires from external partnerorganisations. That requirement mirrors the requirement on localauthorities in respect of maintained schools.
I have asked what mirrors theprocess of warning notices. The academies have a duty to have regard toadvice from the Secretary of State, which effectively provides asimilar mechanism. The Secretary of State can intervene in an academythrough the articles of association and funding agreement held betweenthe Department and the academy trust; he may appoint additionalgovernors, stop funding or close the academy. Those are very similarpowers to those that local authorities have in relation to maintainedschools. I hope, on that basis, that the hon. Lady will withdraw heramendment, but I do not believe that shewill.
SarahTeather: I thank the Minister for his reply. It seems tous that no directly accountable tier of Government is responsible foracademies, unless the Secretary of State is solely responsible forevery school. As I said, that would require the Secretary of State tobe the largest maintaining authority in England, which seems aridiculous centralisation of responsibilities.
At this stage, I see no pointin pressing the amendment to a Division as the Government are clearlynot going to accept it. We have put it on the record that we areunhappy with the level of responsibility and the relationship betweenlocal authorities. We will consider whether to return to this matter onReport. I beg to ask leave to withdraw theamendment.
Amendment,by leave,withdrawn.
Clause46 ordered to stand part of theBill.

Clause47

Warningnotice by local educationauthority
12.30pm
Mr.Chaytor: I beg to move amendment No. 453, in clause 47,page 34, line 34, leave out ‘fifteenth' and insert‘twentieth'.
TheChairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss thefollowing amendments: No. 454, in clause 47, page 36, line 13, leaveout ‘fifteenth' and insert‘twentieth'.
No.455, in clause 47, page 36, line 15, leave out from ‘means' toend of line 17 and insert
 
PreviousContentsContinue
House of Commons home pageParliament home pageHouse of Lords home pagesearch pageenquiriesorderingindex

©Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 10 May 2006