Education And Skills Bill - continued          House of Commons

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Clause 66: Careers education

74.     Clause 66 amends Part 7 of the 1997 Act which requires state secondary schools to provide all pupils with a programme of careers education and appropriate information, and up-to date reference materials related to career options. Section 44 of the Act requires schools to provide access to external careers advisers to provide career advice and guidance to pupils. Subsection (2) of this clause requires all secondary schools to present careers information in an impartial manner and to provide careers advice which is in the best interests of the pupil, and not to promote the interests of the school or other persons or institutions contrary to the pupil's interests. Subsection (3) requires the information and reference materials provided to present a full range of learning and career options and not to unduly promote one option over another. Subsection (4) requires schools to have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State, which is intended to support them in delivering effectively the duties in Part 7 of the 1997 Act, as amended by subsections (2) and (3) of clause 66.

Clause 67: Apprenticeships

75.     This clause amends sections 2, 3 and 4 of the 2000 Act to make clear that the LSC is under a duty to provide proper facilities for apprenticeships for 16 to 18 year olds and reasonable facilities to those over the age of 19. The clause also requires the LSC to encourage employers to offer apprenticeship contracts and contracts of employment where training is provided. The wording of the clause makes clear that it covers both employment under a traditional contract of apprenticeship with an employer, and the modern form of apprenticeships with the involvement of a separate training provider as well as an employer.

Clause 68: Provision of transport etc for persons of sixth form age: duty to consider journey times

76.     Local education authorities must prepare transport policy statements each academic year, which set out transport arrangements for people of sixth form age to attend educational establishments. Transport statements are required under section 509AA of the 1996 Act (as inserted by the 2002 Act). Clause 68 introduces a requirement on local education authorities to have regard to journey times in preparing their transport statement. This clause has the effect of ensuring that travelling time will be one of a range of factors a local education authority must consider, along with cost, the distance a young person will have to travel and the need for choice of education provision.

Clause 69: Co-operation as regards provision of 14-19 education and training

77.     Clause 69 deals with local collaborative arrangements in relation to the education and training of 14 to 19 year olds. It refers to section 10 of the Children Act 2004. That section places a duty on children's services authorities (i.e. local education authorities) to make arrangements to promote co-operation between the authorities, specified partners and other relevant persons with a view to improving the well-being of children relating to a range of factors, including education and training. Clause 69 makes it clear that the arrangements under the Children Act 2004 must include arrangements to promote co-operation between the local education authority and partners who are responsible for 14-19 education. Clause 69 provides that the arrangements under section 10 must include arrangements to promote co-operation between the local education authority, its partners and persons who are responsible for providing 14-19 education or training. The clause also enables local education authorities to set up joint arrangements for co-operation on 14-19 education or training covering the areas for which they are responsible.

Part 3: Adult Skills

Clause 70: Learning aims for persons aged 19 and over

78.     Clause 70 inserts three new sections and a new Schedule 1A into the 2000 Act. New section 4A places a new duty on the LSC to make proper (rather than reasonable) provision for facilities to enable adults who lack particular vocational skills to obtain relevant qualifications. The qualifications will typically be those at relatively low levels of learning, which are designed to equip people with basic and intermediate skills for work and everyday living.

79.     The broad standards of achievement (or "learning aims") for this purpose are set out in Schedule 1A. They are level 1 literacy, entry level 3 numeracy and level 2. The Secretary of State may specify in regulations the qualifications to which the duty applies.

80.     The duty will apply only to a learner's first qualification at the specified level. For example, the LSC will not be under a duty to make proper provision for a learner with a level 2 National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Beauty Therapy who then applies for a level 2 course in Hairdressing. However, the Secretary of State may by regulations (under section 4C(1)) provide that, despite having a specified qualification, a person is to be treated as not having that qualification. This would apply, for example, where an individual had achieved a school leaving qualification in English or maths but was later identified, as a result of diagnostic assessment, as having skills below the basic levels of literacy or numeracy. This might happen where a person has not had to use these skills for a long period of time.

81.     Proper provision of facilities requires that courses are of a sufficient quantity and adequate quality to meet the reasonable needs of individuals. In performing this duty, the LSC must also take account of a number of factors, such as the education and training needs in different sectors of employment, and of any guidance issued by the Secretary of State. The LSC must also act with a view to encouraging diversity in education and training and to increasing opportunities for individuals to exercise choice.

82.     For example, proper provision for learners in respect of courses for which there are high levels of demand fairly consistently across the country - such as NVQ level 2 in Hairdressing - would be met if provision were accessible widely across many institutions and with a good regional distribution. This position would differ where demand both for courses and for skills is more limited. For aerospace courses, for example, the LSC must have regard to proportionate expenditure; the proper provision duty may require a more limited offer of places concentrated in geographical areas with links to the industry. Proper provision for learners seeking to access these more unusual courses may require travel to take up courses or the offer of a course which is analogous to the aerospace qualification, for example, engineering. The Secretary of State may give guidance to the LSC in respect of the duty.

Learning aims for persons over 19: payment of tuition fees

83.     Section 4B places a duty on the LSC to ensure that learners will not be liable to pay fees for courses of study provided as a result of section 4A. The learner must be at least 19 years of age and following a course of study for a specified qualification as set out Schedule 1A (at level 1 literacy, entry level 3 numeracy or level 2). Fees include the course fees, but the Secretary of State may also specify in regulations that other fees relating to the course, e.g. examination fees and costs of diagnostic assessment, are included. Costs which are not fees (for example, the costs of buying books, equipment and materials) will not come within the scope of the duty.

84.     There is also a duty for the LSC to secure the provision of sufficient financial resources for the purpose of paying tuition fees for people between 19 and 25 years old to attain their first level 3 qualification.

85.     The Secretary of State may amend the relevant provisions of section 4B so as to vary the ages at which learners qualify for financial help under that section. This will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Schedule 1A: Learning aims for persons aged 19 and over

86.     The Schedule sets out the learning aims for people aged 19 or over i.e. the broad categories from which qualifications may be specified as qualifications for which the LSC must secure proper facilities (4A) or pay for tuition fees (4B).

87.     These categories are:

    a)     level 1 literacy (the level of attainment at which an adult's skills are functional and sufficient for operating effectively in day-to-day life);

    b)     entry level 3 numeracy (the functional level of attainment for numeracy);

    c)     level 2;

    d)     level 3.

88.     The Secretary of State may by regulations specify particular qualifications or descriptions of qualifications which are to fall within scope of the duties. Qualifications which might be specified include the following:

    a)     level 1 literacy:

    —     level 1 certificate in Adult Literacy

    b)     entry level 3 numeracy

    —     entry level 3 certificate in Adult Numeracy

    c)     level 2

    —     level 2 National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)

    —     Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQs) at level 2 of 325 guided learning hours or more

    d)     level 3

    —     2 or more A-levels

    —     1 or more A-level double Award

    —     level 3 NVQs

    —     level 3 Diplomas

    —     International Baccalaureate

    —     Access to HE certificate/ diploma

89.     "Guided learning hours" in this context may be defined as the estimated number of hours of directed learning in which the learner needs to be engaged in order to achieve the qualification. This includes, for example, time in formal classroom or workshop teaching; project or research activities; distance learning; guidance or tutorial activities.

90.     The Secretary of State may amend the Schedule in order to specify that a particular category of qualification is no longer within scope of the duties or to add a new category of qualification. This will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Clauses 71, 72, 73, 74 and 75: Assessments of effectiveness of education or training

91.     These clauses allow for the sharing of information between Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the devolved administrations in order to assess the effectiveness of education or training of those aged 19 and over, and to assess policy in relation to the provision of such education or training and in relation to social security or employment as it affects the provision of, or participation in, such training or education. Such sharing is provided for through an information gateway. Clause 71 defines the information on revenue and customs which is included in the information gateway. It covers identifying information about income, start and end dates of employment and tax credits. The clause allows for information about individuals' income, employment, tax and tax credits to be disclosed by HMRC to the Secretary of State (DIUS and DWP) and the devolved administrations.

92.     Clause 72 defines the information about learning and benefits which is included in the information gateway. It allows for information about individuals' benefit to be disclosed to the devolved administrations (subsection (1)). It also allows information about individuals' learning activities to be disclosed in either direction between the devolved administrations and the Secretary of State (DIUS and DWP). This reflects the devolved nature of education and training and also enables DWP to share data on benefits with the devolved administrations. Finally it allows for information relating to education and training and information relating to benefits to pass between DIUS and DWP.

93.     The information defined in clauses 71 and 72 above can be used for assessing the effectiveness of learning undertaken and making assessments of policy; the clauses do not permit the making of operational decisions in relation to individuals who are the subjects of the information. Clause 73 restricts use of the information in a way which may identify or disclose the identity of the individual. Clause 74 makes it an offence for an individual to disclose data other than in accordance with the purposes outlined in clause 73 where disclosure reveals the identity of a person or a person's identity could be deduced from the information disclosed. A defence is provided where the person charged reasonably believes that the information is already lawfully in the public domain.

94.     Clause 75 ensures that the disclosure or use of the same information where it is disclosed under other statutory gateways or common law powers is unaffected. It explains the use of certain terms used in clauses 71 to 74 including identifying the devolved authorities as the Scottish and Welsh Ministers.

Part 4: Regulation and inspection of independent educational provision in England

Chapter 1: Independent educational institutions in England

* An independent school is defined in section 463 of the 1996 Act as "any school at which full-time education is provided for (a) five or more pupils of compulsory school age, or (b) at least one pupil of that age for whom a statement is maintained under section 324, or who is looked after by a local authority (within the meaning of section 22 of the Children Act 1989), and which is not a school maintained by a local education authority or a special school not so maintained."

* Under the Children Act 1989 section 22, a child is looked after by a local authority if he or she is in their care or is provided with accommodation for more than 24 hours by the authority.

95.     Clause 76 does not change these definitions. It introduces a new definition, that of an independent educational institution, which includes independent schools and other educational institutions which provide part-time education. The clause also sets out the amount of provision an institution must offer in order to fall within the scope of this new wider definition. Regulations may further specify that an institution or type of institution is not to be regarded as an independent educational institution for the purposes of this Chapter.

96.     The new definition includes settings which are the main provider of a child's education (clause 76) and which otherwise would not be subject to any regulatory or monitoring framework.

97.     The clauses contained in this Chapter apply to institutions in England only. Institutions in Wales will continue to be regulated as set out in Chapter 1 Part 10 of the 2002 Act.

Clause 78: Standards

98.     Clause 78 extends the application of the existing standards for independent schools as currently provided for in section 157 of the 2002 Act to independent educational institutions, and creates an additional standard, relating to the quality of leadership and management in an institution. The standards are prescribed in regulations. These standards do not apply to early years provision (for children under the age of three), which must provide the Early Years Foundation Stage provision as set out in section 39 of the Childcare Act 2006.

Clauses 79, 80 and 81: Requirement of registration

99.     The Chief Inspector must maintain a register of independent educational institutions under clause 79. Clause 80 creates an offence of conducting an unregistered independent educational institution and sets out the penalty for doing so.

100.     Clause 81 allows the Chief Inspector to enter any premises and carry out an inspection where he or she has reasonable cause to believe that an unregistered independent educational institution is being operated. He or she is able to inspect and copy any relevant records and documents, including computer records. It creates an offence for obstructing the Chief Inspector and sets out the penalty for doing so.

Clauses 82, 83 and 84: Registration Procedure

101.     Clause 82 sets out the requirements for registration of an independent educational institution, and explains the type of information that must be provided to the Chief Inspector in any application.

102.     The Chief Inspector is required by virtue of clause 83 to inspect an independent educational institution prior to registration, prepare a report detailing the extent to which it will meet the required standards, take a decision on registration on the basis of his conclusions and any other relevant evidence as to whether the standards will be met, inform the proprietor of the institution and, where it meets the standards, enter it on the register.

103.     If any establishment no longer meets the definition of an independent educational institution, clause 84 allows the Chief Inspector to remove it from the register. The Chief Inspector must inform the proprietor of this action, who may appeal to the Care Standards Tribunal against the decision to deregister.

Clauses 85, 86, 87, 88 and 89: Approval of material changes to registered details

104.     Clause 86 requires the proprietor of a registered independent educational institution to seek, in writing, prior approval for any change which is defined as a material change. Clause 85 defines those changes for which the proprietor of a registered independent educational institution is required to seek approval from the Chief Inspector. Special institutions are those that are specially organised to make provision for students with special educational needs, and they will be required to seek prior approval in a wider range of circumstances than other institutions.

105.     In determining whether to approve the request for a material change, the Chief Inspector may inspect the institution in question (clause 87). The inspection will focus on those standards which the Chief Inspector considers to be relevant.

106.     The Chief Inspector will decide whether to approve a material change on the basis of whether the standards are likely to continue to be met. The proprietor will have a right to appeal where the Chief Inspector refuses to approve the change (clause 88).

107.     An independent educational institution which makes an unapproved material change may be removed from the register by the Chief Inspector. The Chief Inspector must inform the proprietor, who has a right to appeal against de-registration (clause 89).

Clauses 90 and 91: Independent inspectorates

108.     Clause 90 allows the Secretary of State to approve inspectorates (in addition to Ofsted) to undertake certain inspections of independent educational institutions. These inspectorates will be known as "independent inspectorates". The clause also allows the Secretary of State to withdraw approval from such a body. The Secretary of State is given powers to specify in regulations criteria for approval of an independent inspectorate.

109.     Clause 91 requires the Chief Inspector to quality assure inspections carried out by approved bodies. At least once a year, the Chief Inspector must prepare a report for the Secretary of State about the independent inspectorates. In doing so, the Chief Inspector must have regard to any directions from the Secretary of State.

Clauses 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97 and 98: Inspections and reports

110.      Clause 92 requires the Chief Inspector to inspect independent educational institutions at regular intervals, to be prescribed in regulations. The Chief Inspector is not required to inspect those institutions which are inspected by independent inspectorates. The purpose of this clause is to ensure that there are regular inspections of independent educational institutions. It does not apply to Academies, city technology colleges and city colleges for the technology of the arts, for which alternative arrangements are already in place (section 5 of the 2005 Act). The Chief Inspector is not required to inspect an institution under this clause if the institution has been the subject of an appropriate inspection by a relevant independent inspectorate and the Chief Inspector has received a report of the inspection.

111.     The Secretary of State may direct the Chief Inspector to inspect an independent educational institution at any time outside of the regular inspection cycle and to specify which standards are relevant to the inspection (clause 93). Equally the Chief Inspector is permitted, under clause 94 to carry out or arrange for the inspection of an independent educational institution at any time outside of the regular inspection cycle and to decide which standards are relevant to the inspection. In either case, a report is written on the extent to which any relevant standards are being met.

112.     The Chief Inspector is permitted to enter any registered independent educational institution at any reasonable time, and to inspect and copy any relevant records and documents, including computer records. Clause 95 creates an offence for obstructing the Chief Inspector and sets out the penalty for doing so.

113.     Clause 96 allows the Secretary of State, in regulations, to require proprietors to pay fees and to set the amount payable in relation to any inspection by the Chief Inspector under this Chapter. Academies, city technology colleges and city colleges for the technology of the arts are not required to pay inspection fees. The Government intends to use the power in subsection (2)(a) to set fees for inspections that are no higher than is necessary to recover some or all of the costs associated with the inspections.

114.     If any independent educational institution does not pay the appropriate fee, the Chief Inspector may remove the establishment from the register (clause 97). He must inform the proprietor who may appeal the decision.

115.     The Chief Inspector is permitted to publish any report of an inspection which he has prepared (clause 98).

Clauses 99, 100, 101, 102 and 103: Failure to meet standards

116.     Clause 99 provides for the Chief Inspector to serve a notice on the proprietor of an independent educational establishment, requiring the proprietor to provide an action plan to address any failures to meet the required standards. On receipt of a plan, the Chief Inspector may approve it with or without modifications or reject it, in which case he can request a further action plan.

117.     Where the proprietor has previously failed to comply with or provide an adequate action plan or the Chief Inspector is satisfied that the institution has failed to meet the required standards for a continuous period (two years), the Chief Inspector may take enforcement action against the proprietor (clause 100).

118.     There are alternatives available to the Chief Inspector where enforcement action is taken (clause 101). The Chief Inspector may remove the institution from the register, or impose a restriction as described in clause 102. When the Chief Inspector decides to take enforcement action he must inform the proprietor who has a right of appeal.

119.     Clause 102 sets out the restrictions, short of de-registration, that can be imposed by the Chief Inspector or, in relevant cases, by orders of a Justice of the Peace or the Care Standards Tribunal. These are:

    a)     ceasing to use part of the premises for all or specified purposes;

    b)     closing part of the institution's operation; and/or

    c)     ceasing to admit new students or students of a specified description.

120.     Clause 103 creates an offence of failing to comply with a restriction imposed by the Chief Inspector and sets out the penalty for doing so. It also allows the proprietor to apply to the Chief Inspector to have the restriction lifted, in whole or in part, and requires the Chief Inspector to notify the proprietor of his decision.

Clause 104: Unsuitable persons

121.     This clause prohibits or restricts institutions from allowing unsuitable persons to carry out certain activities, or occupy certain position of authority, in an independent educational institution. This is achieved by enabling the Secretary of State to deregister an independent educational institution which allows a person who is subject to relevant barring or disqualifying orders (which will be described in regulations) to carry out certain activities in relation to the institution. It introduces a new right of appeal against deregistration for employing a barred person. The purpose of this clause is to prevent unsuitable people from working with children.

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Prepared: 29 November 2007