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These notes refer to the Education and Skills Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 28th November 2007 [Bill 12]
EDUCATION AND SKILLS BILL
1. These explanatory notes relate to the Education and Skills Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 28th November 2007. They have been prepared by the Department for Children, Schools and Families in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.
3. In July 2007, the Government published World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England which can be accessed at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/ skillsstrategy/uploads/documents/World%20Class%20Skills%20FINAL.pdf. This document set out the Government's plans to improve the skill levels of young people and adults.
4. The Green Paper Raising Expectations: staying in education and training post-16, published in March 2007, dealt specifically with young people and set out, for consultation, proposals to raise to 18 the age until which young people must remain in education or training. The Green Paper and a summary of the responses can be found at: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/downloadableDocs/Raising%20 Expectations%20Consultation%20Report.pdf. More detailed legislative proposals drawn up following the consultation were set out in November 2007 in the publication, Raising Expectations: staying in education and training post-16 - from policy to legislation, which can be found at http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/14-19/index.cfm? sid=42&pid=344&ctype=TEXT&ptype=Single.
Bill 12EN 54/3
5. The purpose of the Bill is, first, to change the statutory framework to put a duty on all young people to participate in education or training until the age of 18, with corresponding duties on local education authorities and employers to enable and support participation. Second, it amends legislation about the provision of adult education and training, and support for young people. Third, the Bill changes the regulatory framework for inspection of independent educational institutions, non-maintained special schools and providers of initial teacher training. The Bill also includes a number of miscellaneous provisions in relation to behaviour, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and schools forums.
6. The Bill is organised into five parts with two schedules. Schedule 1 deals with minor and consequential amendments, schedule 2 covers repeals and revocations. In summary, the Bill:
7. At Introduction this Bill contains provisions that trigger the Sewel Convention. The relevant clauses 71, 72, 73, 74 and 75 relate to sharing information on tax and employment and benefit and training information for specified purposes. The Sewel Convention provides that Westminster will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. If there are subsequent amendments relating to such matters which trigger the Convention, the consent of the Scottish Parliament will also be sought for them.
8. The provisions relating to Northern Ireland concern changes to the remit of the QCA. Clause 137 extends the remit of the QCA in Northern Ireland to enable it to develop and publish criteria for the recognition of bodies wishing to award or authenticate qualifications. Clause 139 extends the powers of the QCA in Northern Ireland to cover the regulation of vocational qualifications currently excluded from its scope. A legislative consent motion from the Northern Ireland Assembly will be required before the clauses can be brought into force.
9. The Bill confers a number of new or expanded powers on the Welsh Ministers, in line with changes being made to certain powers of the Secretary of State in relation to England.
10. Table 1 lists the provisions that affect the existing powers of the Welsh Ministers, confer new powers on them, or otherwise affect Wales.
11. The following definitions occur in the notes in relation to the whole of the Act:
12. Throughout the notes the term "local education authority" is used to refer to those local authorities with education functions identified in section 12 of the 1996 Education Act. The term "local education authority" has been in use since 1944 to identify those authorities but it has given rise to some perceptions that a local education authority has an identity of its own separate from the local authority.
13. In line with government policy to improve outcomes for children by promoting greater cooperation between agencies delivering children's services, and the introduction of the post of director of children's services and lead member for children's services in the Children Act 2004, local authority children's services (mainly education and children's social services) are being integrated. To reflect this it is now government policy that the terms "local education authority" and "children's services authority" should no longer be used. To make this fully effective requires an equivalent change in the terminology used in legislation.
14. Education legislation, however, uses the term "local education authority" and, as the Bill both amends and builds on a number of Education Acts, it has been necessary to continue to use the term local education authority in the Bill. It is therefore used throughout these notes (and, where appropriate, is abbreviated to LEA). But in due course an order made under section 162 of the 2002 Act will convert references in legislation to "local education authority" (and references in legislation to "children's services authority") to references to "local authority".
Clauses 1 and 2: Duty to participate in education or training
15. The first two clauses establish a duty on young people to participate in a form of education or training, and set out the young people to whom that duty applies. Clause 2 creates the central duty ("the duty to participate in education or training") and details the ways in which young people may fulfil that duty. The eligible forms of education or training are:
16. Clause 1 sets out the people subject to the duty to participate in education or training. It applies to any person who is resident in England, has ceased to be of compulsory school age but not yet reached the age of 18, and has not attained a qualification at level 3.
17. In Clause 3, level 3 is defined as the level of attainment which is demonstrated by two A levels. The clause enables regulations to set out the qualifications that will count for this purpose. It is intended that these will include the Progression Diploma and the Advanced Diploma once these are available. Clauses 4 to 9 provide definitions for the types of participation that will fulfil the duty. Clause 4 defines appropriate full-time education or training as efficient full-time education or training suitable to the person's age, ability, aptitude and any learning difficulty they have, provided at a school, college of further education or otherwise. For example, this provides that home education would fulfil the central duty to participate. "Full-time" is not defined in legislation for compulsory school age, but this clause mirrors section 7 of the 1996 Act which provides for compulsory education pre-16.
18. For the purposes of this Part, clause 5 defines full-time occupation as working for 20 hours or more per week under a contract of employment or in any other way which may be prescribed in regulations. Clause 5 provides for regulations to be made determining whether people should be treated as working 20 hours where their normal working hours vary from week to week. Regulations made under subsection 1(b) can prescribe any other kinds of occupation that should count for these purposes, including volunteering, agency work and working as the holder of an office (for example, police officers or public appointees). By virtue of clause 50, Crown employment (for example civil servants or those in the armed forces) counts as work under a contract of employment.
19. Clause 6 defines relevant training or education for people. It must consist of a course or courses leading towards a qualification accredited by the QCA.
20. Clause 7 defines a relevant period. The time when a person is subject to the duty is divided into relevant periods. This is any period of time starting when the duty to participate in clause 2 applies to a young person if they are not fulfilling the duty through full-time education or training or under a contract of apprenticeship. It ends either when the duty no longer applies to them, or they start full-time education or training, or commence a contract of apprenticeship, or at a date set in regulations. Prescribing the end date allows the provisions to apply only to the time when the person is fulfilling the duty under clause 2(1)(c) so that he or she could, for example, go back into full-time education under clause 2(1)(a) after a period of relevant training and then change back to relevant training when a new relevant period would start.
21. Clause 8 provides that, if a person fulfils the duty to participate by working and pursuing part time education or training towards an accredited qualification, then the training provided by a person's employer, or any other education or training towards accredited qualifications, must be equivalent to 280 guided learning hours per year. It establishes that those guided learning hours may be actual hours of guided learning or a value assigned to an accredited qualification by the QCA. Regulations will prescribe what constitutes sufficient education or training where this option is pursued for periods of less than a whole year, for instance where a young person changes the way they are fulfilling the duty mid-way through a year, or because their 18th birthday falls before the end of the year. Clause 9 requires the QCA to assign guided learning hours in accrediting qualifications. Provision is made for sufficient education or training to be defined through regulations where a course runs for a period of time that is not one year.
Clause 10: Duty to promote fulfilment of duty imposed by section 2
22. Clause 10 establishes a duty on local education authorities to promote participation of young people in education or training in their area who are subject to the duty to participate under clause 2.
23. Clause 11 places a new duty on governing bodies of certain institutions in England to promote attendance for the purpose of enabling young people to meet the duty to participate under clause 2. The duty applies to community, foundation or voluntary schools and special schools, to pupil referral units, and to further education institutions. The LSC will be asked to place the same duty on the private providers that it funds, through its existing power to attach conditions to funding under section 6 of the 2000 Act. This new requirement to promote attendance applies in relation to young people subject to the new duty to participate.
24. This clause places a duty on local education authorities to identify those young people in their area who are subject to the duty to participate and failing to fulfil it.
25. Educational institutions are under a duty to notify the appropriate service provider if a person is not participating and they believe that the person is not fulfilling the duty (clause 13). The clause sets out to which institutions the duty applies, and who is the appropriate service provider. "Service provider" means the local education authority where the authority provides services in exercise of its functions under clause 54 or, alternatively, where, in the exercise of those functions, the authority makes arrangements for the provision of those services, the person providing those services.
26. Clause 14 sets out the information that learning providers must provide to enable local education authorities to identify those young people who are not participating, and what information the young person (or their parent, where the young person is younger than 16) can instruct not to be provided.
27. The Secretary of State, under clause 15, may supply social security information to enable a local education authority to fulfil its functions under this Part. The clause sets out under what circumstances further disclosure of this information is permissible, under what circumstances it is an offence and the penalty that may be imposed.
28. Clause 16 sets out which other public bodies may share information about a young person with a local education authority in order for it to fulfil its duty. The purpose of the clause is to allow public bodies to provide information to local education authorities where other statutory provisions would prevent their doing so. Clause 17 allows data held by local education authorities and data held by their service providers to be shared and used, either for purposes under Part 1 of the Bill, or for the purposes of clauses 54 to 63. The intention is that local education authorities will continue to maintain the database currently established and maintained under the Learning and Skills Act 2000 to help them provide the right support services to young people (under Part 2 of this Bill) and promote fulfilment of the duty to participate (under Part 1).
|© Parliamentary copyright 2007||Prepared: 29 November 2007|