Annette Brooke: It is exceedingly important to tease out where the responsibility will be for the college and the local education authority. Colleges have increasingly been put in a position in which they have had to top up transport because local authorities are not funding that. Equally, many in local authorities say that students have their education maintenance allowance, but I am not convinced that the EMA is necessarily intended for transport fees. Can we be clear that local authorities will have adequate funding?
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I have made the point that the increase local authorities have had in their funding has enabled them to fulfil their transport duties. It is not necessarily intended that the EMA should be used to fund transport. We do not expect colleges to fund transport routinely. That is the responsibility of the local education authority. Given my remarks on amendment 125 and new clause 2, I hope that the hon. Lady will withdraw the amendment.
Annette Brooke: It is of course welcome that students and their parents are being consulted, but the fact that colleges are having to provide transport to overcome the shortcomings means that the consultation has to be wider and also go to the providers so that they can have their input in the local authority transport plan if the local authority is to have ultimate responsibility for this. I ask the Minister to take that on board. That will have to be clear in the guidance. I would also like to echo the points made on colleges in rural areas, as an important issue is that some young people in those areas cannot access courses. That will be an expensive provision, but if we truly mean it, it has to be backed by funds and resources. We cannot tell young people that they can have all these opportunities when in reality there could
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 51 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 52 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Complaints about transport arrangements etc for persons of sixth form age
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: new clause 3Complaints about transport arrangements
(1) After section 509AE of the Education Act 1996 (complaints about transport arrangements etc for persons of sixth form age in England) insert
509AF Complaints about transport arrangements etc for certain young adults
(1) A local education authority may revise a statement prepared under section 508F to change the arrangements specified under subsection (1) of that section if, as a result of a certain young adults transport complaint, they have come to consider the change necessary for the purpose mentioned in that subsection.
(2) A local education authority must revise a statement prepared under section 508F to change the arrangements specified under subsection (1) of that section if, as a result of a certain young adult transport complaint, the Secretary of State has directed them to do so.
(3) An authority that revises a statement under subsections (1) or (2) must publish the revised statement and a description of the revision as soon as practicable.
(4) The Secretary of State need not consider whether to exercise any power under sections 496 to 497A (powers to prevent unreasonable exercise of functions, etc) or subsection (2) of this section in response to a matter that is, or could have been, the subject of a certain young adult transport complaint made to him or her unless satisfied that
(a) the matter has been brought to the notice of the local education authority concerned, and
(b) the authority has had a reasonable opportunity to investigate the matter and respond.
(5) In this section certain young adult transport complaint means a complaint that is
(a) about a local education authoritys exercise of, or failure to exercise, a function under sections 508F to 509AD in relation to certain young adults,
(b) made by a person who is, or will be, a relevant young adult when the matter complained of has effect, or by a parent of such a person, and
(c) made by a certain young adult as defined by section 508F (8).
(6) For the purposes of sections 508G(8), 509AB(1) to (5), and 509AD, the revision of a statement under this section is to be treated as the preparation of a statement under section 508F.
(7) Where a local authority has published in a single document a statement prepared under section 508G and a statement prepared under 509AA, the requirement to publish a revised statement under subsection (3) is to be treated as a requirement to publish a version of the document that includes the revised statement..
(2) In section 496 of the Education Act 1996 (power of Secretary of State to prevent unreasonable exercise of functions), after subsection (4) (as inserted by section 206(1) of this Act) insert
(6) This section is subject to section 509AF (complaints about transport arrangements etc for certain young adults in England)..
(3) In section 497 of the Education Act 1996 (general default powers of Secretary of State), after subsection (6) insert
(7) This section is subject to section 509AF (complaints about transport arrangements etc for certain young adults in England)..
(4) In section 497A of the Education Act 1996 (power of Secretary of State to secure proper performance of LEAs functions), at end insert
(9) This section is subject to section 509AF (complaints about transport arrangements etc for certain young adults in England)...(Annette Brooke.)
New clause 4Power of the Secretary of State to direct a review of arrangements
(1) The Secretary of State may direct one or more local authorities to undertake a review of their transport policy statement.
(2) The provision which may be made by a direction includes provision for
(a) the timetable for the review and for the preparation and publication of a scheme,
(b) the procedures to be followed in carrying out the review,
(c) particular issues which the review and any scheme must address, and
(d) the implementation of any policy..
Annette Brooke: I shall be brief on these points. New clause 3 relates to complaints about transport arrangements, and the Minister has already alluded to the fact that there is a system within the Bill. We welcome the improved route of appeal for young people of sixth-form age and their parents on local authority transport arrangements. However, since local authorities have a duty to provide transport where necessary for learners with learning difficulties or disabilities up to the age of 25, we feel that those students should have the same right of redress. Therefore, I ask the Minister to give that serious consideration.
New clause 4 suggests that the Secretary of State may intervene. The Bill seeks to strengthen existing duties on local authorities, but colleges have genuine concerns that some local authorities have not been fulfilling their statutory duties to produce appropriate transport plans. As a backstop, the power to review any arrangements for transport would ensure that they are effectively planned and, most importantly, implemented, so that the whole scheme works to the advantage of our young people.
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Clause 53 introduces new arrangements for sixth-form transport complaints. Local authorities will have a new power to amend their transport policy statements during the year, to take account of complaints or in response to direction from the Secretary of State. An updated statement will be published with a description of the change, ensuring that young people and their parents can always access up-to-date information about the transport and financial assessment arrangements available to them.
Sixth-form transport complaints will need to be considered locally, before being brought to the attention of the Secretary of State. Complaints addressed locally can be resolved more quickly and effectively, as that would take account of local context. Taken together, the measures will lead to more responsive sixth-form transport policies, as local authorities will have greater awareness of any problems that learners face in accessing provision and will have a power to amend their transport policy statements in response to complaints where necessary.
With regard to young people aged 19 to 24 with learning difficulties and disabilities, the changes in proposed new section 508G in clause 54 take us a step forward by ensuring that they will be given the information that they need about the transport provision available to them.
In relation to new clause 3, we agree that complaints are usually best addressed locally, as they can be resolved more quickly and effectively, but we need to reflect further on the points made by the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole. I ask the hon. Lady not to press it to a vote, because I shall reflect further on that.
On new clause 4, I am sure that the hon. Lady would agree that we trust local authorities to manage and review their own transport arrangements for young people of sixth-form age. When there are complaints about transport arrangements, the changes made in the Bill will ensure that there are effective arrangements in place to resolve them. In cases where a local authority is acting unreasonably in how it is fulfilling its sixth-form transport duties or has failed to produce a transport policy statement, the Secretary of State already has the power to direct a local authority to review its policy or to produce a policy statement. Therefore, an additional power for the Secretary of State to direct a local authority to review its statement is unnecessary.
The measures in clause 53 have an important part to play in ensuring local accountability in the implementation of the transport duty. I hope that clause 53 can stand part of the Bill unamended.
Annette Brooke: I thank the Minister for her comments, particularly as far as new clause 3 is concerned. I look forward to the results of the further reflection on that point, because it seems as if something has been left out. I am relieved that there is already a power, which exists simply as a backstop, because I would be one of the first to say that we should trust local authorities. However, there appear to be variations between authorities and it is important that the power exists. Since I have been reassured on that point, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the two new clauses.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 53 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Local education authorities in England: provision of transport etc for adult learners
Amendment made: 273, in clause 54, page 35, leave out lines 39 to 41.(Sarah McCarthy-Fry.)
This amendment is consequent on amendment 282.
Clause 54, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 55 and 56 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
LEA functions: minor and consequential amendments
Amendments made: 281, in schedule 2, page 152, line 30, leave out from (1) to end of line 31 and insert
after secondary education insert and, in the case of a local education authority in England, further education,.
This amendment is consequent on amendment 282.
Amendment 282, in schedule 2, page 152, line 34, leave out from persons to end of line and insert
(a) who are over compulsory school age but under 19, or
(b) who are aged 19 or over but under 25 and are subject to learning difficulty assessment.
(4) For the purposes of this Act a person is subject to learning difficulty assessment if
(a) a learning difficulty assessment has been conducted in respect of the person, or
(b) arrangements for a learning difficulty assessment to be conducted in respect of the person have been made or are required to be made.
(5) In subsection (4), a learning difficulty assessment means an assessment under section 139A or 140 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 (assessments relating to learning difficulties).
(6) For the purposes of subsection (1), persons who are subject to a detention order are to be regarded as part of the population of the area in which they are detained (and not any other area)..
New section 13(4) and (5) of the Education Act 1996 defines when persons are subject to a learning difficulty assessment for 1996 Act purposes. New section 13(6) identifies the area to whose population persons subject to a detention order are treated as belonging for section 13(1) purposes.
Amendment 348, in schedule 2, page 153, line 13, after functions insert
and their relevant training functions.
This amendment is consequential on clause 47 and ensures that section 13A of the Education Act 1996 applies to local education authorities in Wales when they exercise their new training functions under new section 18A(1)(b) of that Act.
Amendment 349, in schedule 2, page 153, line 16, leave out educational and insert learning.
This amendment is consequent on amendment 348.
Amendment 283, in schedule 2, page 153, leave out lines 19 to 21.
This amendment is consequent on amendment 282.
Amendment 350, in schedule 2, page 154, line 18, leave out from difficulty) to end of line 19 and insert
for 15A or 15B substitute 15ZA, 15A, 15B or 18A
This amendment clarifies that the definition of learning difficulty which applies to section 18A is that set out in new section 15ZA(7) and (8) of the Education Act 1996 (as inserted by clause 40).
Amendment 351, in schedule 2, page 154, line 24, at end insert
After section 569 insert
569A Regulations made by Welsh Ministers under Chapter 5A
(1) Any power of the Welsh Ministers to make regulations under Chapter 5A shall be exercised by statutory instrument.
(2) A statutory instrument containing any such regulations made by the Welsh Ministers shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the National Assembly for Wales.
(3) Any such regulations may make different provision for different cases, circumstances or areas and may contain such incidental, supplemental, saving or transitional provisions as the Welsh Ministers think fit.
In section 579(1) (general interpretation)
(a) in the definition of prescribed, after prescribed insert (except in Chapter 5A);
(b) in the definition of regulations, after regulations insert (except in Chapter 5A)..
This amendment is consequent on amendment 344 and reinserts new section 569A of the Education Act 1996.
Amendment 284, in schedule 2, page 154, leave out lines 25 to 27 and insert
In section 580 (index) insert the following entries at the appropriate places
relevant young adult (in sections 508F and 508G) section 508F(8);
relevant youth accommodation section 562(1A);
subject to a detention order section 562(1A);
subject to learning difficulty assessment section 13(4)..
This amendment is consequent on amendments 271 and 282.
Amendment 352, in schedule 2, page 154, line 27, at end insert
Education Act 2002 (c. 32)
In section 207(2) of the Education Act 2002 (c. 32) (recoupment: adjustment between local education authorities), for primary education and secondary education) substitute
(a) primary education;
(b) secondary education;
(c) education provided under section 562C of the Education Act 1996 (detention of persons with special educational needs: appropriate special educational provision).(Jim Knight.)
This amendment amends section 207 of the Education Act 2002 to enable regulations to make provision for a local education authority to recoup the cost of making the special educational provision required under new section 562C of the Education Act 1996 (inserted by NC17) from another authority.
Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.
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