Education Bill

Memorandum submitted by NASUWT (E 23)


1. The NASUWT has reviewed the contents of the Education Bill in the context of:

· consistency with the ethos and values of public services;

· the impact on raising standards and the quality of education;

· the rights and entitlements of children and young people;

· accountability to parents, local communities and the public; and

· the contents of the Coalition’s Programme for Governmen’.

2. The Education Bill cannot be considered in isolation from the context of the Coalition Government’s overall policy on public services and education, including the changes signalled in the White Paper The importance of Teaching, but not covered in this Bill.

3. The absence of a coherent policy for special educational needs (SEN) from the Bill provisions, given the profound nature of the changes to the education system, is a serious deficiency, as is the exclusion of academies from many of the Bill’s provisions.


Free of charge early years provision (clause 1)

4. The NASUWT is concerned by the extensive range of powers provided to the Secretary of State to determine which children will benefit, the nature of the provision and the definition of early years provision without reference to Parliament.

5. The provision of 15 hours of free early years provision for two year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds must be based on a clear understanding of the purpose of early years provision and make explicit whether this is about childcare or providing high quality educational provision.


Power of members of staff at schools to search pupils (clause 2)

6. In the last decade, an unprecedented number of additional sanctions were introduced to support the school workforce in maintaining high standards of discipline.

7. One of the sanctions introduced was the extension of an existing power to search pupils for a defined list of items. This provision was set out in legislation and was subject to detailed Parliamentary scrutiny.

8 . The NASUWT is not aware of any clam our from the profession for these relatively new provisions to be extended further or of any evidence that the existing powers are deficient.

9 . T he extensive search powers proposed in the Bill are deeply disturbing and a ppear to conflict with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 19 and 28 . They will elicit strong, oppositional views from parents and organisations representing children.

1 0 . The powers proposed are excessive even for those enforcing the law as , in effect, they give agents of the state impunity to flout the rights of the individual.

1 1 . O f equal concern is the fact that these provisions :

(i) are too widely drafted,

(ii) do not require parental / carer consent;

(iii) will not protect staff , l eav ing them open to litigation under the Human Rights and Data Protection Acts, accusations of assault and challenges under safeguarding procedures;

(iv) will undermine the relationship between pupils and teachers ;

(v) are contrary to the Coalition’s Programme for Government objectives to secure human rights and civil liberties;

(vi) are likely to promote and provoke conflict;

(vii) are disproportionate; and

(viii) will not improve or maintain high standards of pupil behaviour .

1 2 . T he main concern of teachers i s not that more sanctions a re needed but that classroom teachers p rofessional judgement on d iscipline should be respected and supported by school leaders. These provisions do not address those concerns .

The provisions should be deleted from the Bill.

Exclusion of pupils (clause 4)

13. The NASUWT has no objection in principle to replacing independent appeals panels.

14. Whilst the review panels will not have the power to reinstate pupils, they will have the power to impose financial penalties on schools.

15. Its anomalous that the trigger for the power to order adjustment of the school’s budget share arises from the direction given to a school to reconsider its decision, not on the outcome of the reconsideration.

16. These provisions may place the school in the position of feeling obliged to revisit and revoke its initial decision or face criticism of and action by parents and/or financial penalty.

17. The application of these provisions to academies should not be at the discretion of the Secretary of State.

Repeal of requirement to give notice of detention to parents (clause 5)

18. Removing the requirement to give 24 hours’ notice of detention should not be viewed as removing the obligation to give any notice. Schools will be open to litigation if detention is applied without contact with a parent in advance.

19. This provision may have value in terms of populist public appeal but will make little impact on behaviour management in most schools.

Repeal of the duty to enter into behaviour and attendance partnerships (clause 6)

20. Behaviour and attendance partnerships were introduced, after extensive and detailed review of behaviour in schools by a panel of expert practitioners chaired by Sir Alan Steer, as a way for schools to collaborate, share best practice and pool resources to tackle pupil indiscipline.

21. The repeal of these provisions is a retrograde step. Schools collaborating is evidence of a coherent school system. Dismantling such arrangements undermines the principles upon which an effective state education system is based.

22. This is one of several provisions in the Bill designed to facture the coherence of the education system and atomise the organisation of provision. It removes collective responsibility for children and young people in the local community and will encourage schools to seek to exclude their problems and take no wider responsibility.

This provision should be deleted.


Abolition of the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE), Functions of the Secretary of State (clauses 7 and 8)

23. The GTCE failed to focus on its regulatory function and did nothing to enhance the status of teachers. However, to abolish it without consultation and consideration of how its functions should be replaced, was inappropriate.

24. The Bill does not offer an appropriate or acceptable alternative, conferring as it does all decision making to the Secretary of State. This is inconsistent with the position across the UK and with other professions. It undermines transferability and will damage the status of the profession.

25. Regulation of the teaching profession must command public confidence.

26. The provisions lack safeguards on the procedure for prohibition or interim prohibition orders.

27. Of particular concern is the dilution of the current provision that an employer must refer a teacher who has been either dismissed or resigned to avoid dismissal for conduct or competency.

28. To leave referral to the discretion of the employer in cases of misconduct is not in the interests of the public, the profession or the individual teacher.

29. At local level there is significant variation in the circumstances leading to disciplinary proceedings. This factor alone necessitates, in the interests of natural justice, the need for national review and regulation.

30. There is no evidence to justify why there is a need to amend this long- standing referral provision or why the teaching profession should be treated differently from other professions.

This provision should be deleted or amended to require employers to make such referrals.

Requirement for teachers in England to serve an induction period (clause 9)

31. Allowing the Secretary of State to determine the standards required to complete induction as they apply to individual teachers is unacceptable. It raises the prospect of induction standards being altered for particular individuals or for different types of school. Common standards for induction must apply in all schools and the Bill should reflect this.

Restrictions on reporting alleged offences by teachers (clause 13)

32. The NASUWT campaigned for many years for a statutory provision to grant anonymity for teachers facing allegations from pupils.

33. Whilst this provision is a positive step, it is deficient in a number of respects.

(i) It refers only to teachers.

(ii) Breach of the provision will only lead to a maximum fine of £5,000. This is unlikely to act as a deterrent.

(iii) The consequences for repeat offences are unclear.

(iv) There is no provision for the right of the person subject to the allegation to be heard where there is an application to dispense with the restrictions.

34. The provisions do not cover a supply teacher working in the school for only a short period of time, a teacher on a temporary contract or off-site situations.

35. This provision will not address the most pressing issue, the recording and reporting of ‘soft’ information on CRB checks, which blights teachers’ health, promotion and job security.

36. This provision needs to be amended to:

(i) cover all members of the school workforce;

(ii) secure the coverage of all those staff who are subject to allegations; and

(iii) incorporate penalties that will deter a breach.

Abolition of the Training and Development Agency (clause 14)

37. There are further substantial powers to the Secretary of State to facilitate the planned radical changes to initial teacher training.

38. Removing the power of the Secretary of State to impose conditions on HEIs will:

(i) impact adversely on recruitment of students. Currently applied conditions address inequality of access and recruitment to ITT courses;

(ii) jeopardise consistency and quality of provision; and

(iii) downgrade the status of teaching and teaching qualifications by reducing, or removing entirely, the key role of HEIs in ITT.

Abolition of the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB) (clause 18)

39. The introduction of the SSSNB recognised that support staff are key members of the education team around the child.

40. The SSSNB was established on the basis of robust evidence that demonstrated that the effectiveness of support staff was being undermined by inappropriate contractual provisions and significant variations in pay within and between schools.

41. The abolition is based on an ideological opposition to national frameworks of pay and conditions of service, to enable a free market to flourish.

42. The NASUWT believes its abolition should be reconsidered.


Requirement to participate in International Comparison Surveys (clause 20)

43. The provisions do not specify the surveys in which schools would be required to participate, leaving the provision open to political manipulation and abuse.

44. This provision does not apply to academies, compounding the potential for manipulation and abuse.

45. Such international comparisons should be above party politics. The provisions should either be amended to specify the surveys or the Secretary of State must be requested to bring specific proposals back to Parliament.

Ofqual (clauses 21 and 22)

46. As the Chair of Ofqual will now be appointed by the Secretary of State Ofqual’s independence is compromised.

The clauses should be deleted.

Abolition of the Qualification and Curriculum Development Agency (clause 23, 24 and 25)

47. This provision will remove independent review of the curriculum and investigation of curriculum concerns. Public accountability and scrutiny is undermined by the removal, for example, of annual reports on the conduct of RE in schools.

Careers guidance in schools in England (clause 27)

48. These provisions are of deep concern, in particular:

(i) requiring local authorities to make provision to encourage, enable or assist young people to engage and remain in education or training, while removing the requirement on schools to allow access and facilities to education and training support services;

(ii) the lack of clarity about the implications and impact of the monitoring of destinations of pupils; and

(iii) that these provisions do not apply to academy schools.

49. Schools will be required to secure independent careers guidance, but severing the link with the local authority and the removal of the requirement on schools to allow access to and facilities for education and support services, means that the nature of the ‘independent’ advice, and who provides it, will be at the discretion of the headteacher. Breadth, suitability or diversity of advice cannot be guaranteed, impacting adversely on social mobility and leading to inequality.

50. The duty on schools should be reinstated. An amendment should be made to specify that independent advice must be broad and balanced.

Repeal of diploma entitlement for the fourth key stage and 16-18 year olds (clause 28 and 29)

51. This clause narrows the curriculum and undermines parity of esteem between academic and vocational courses. It is a retrograde step that will disenfranchise thousands of learners.

Part 5: Educational institutions: other provisions

Duties to co-operate with local authority (clauses 30 and 31)

52. These duties were introduced as a result of the Laming Report following the death of Victoria Climbe. The Coalition Government appears to be prepared to sacrifice the wellbeing and welfare of children and young people in an ideological pursuit of creating stand-alone institutions with no links to the local authority or community.

Clause 30 should be deleted.

Duty to appoint school improvement partners (clause 33)

53. This is another example of severing links with local authorities.

54. The intended ‘replacements’, the National Leaders of Education will not cover the majority of schools, will have no relationship with the local authority and, therefore, the opportunity for external support and challenge is again reduced and public accountability undermined as a result.

Duties in relation to school admissions (clause 34)

55. These changes will have a profoundly negative impact on the process of ensuring and securing fair admissions.

56. Removing the Admissions Forums and changing the role of the Schools Adjudicator to that of hearing only individual appeals means there will be no strategic overview of admissions and no scrutiny of how admissions policies are impacting on an area, particularly with regard to equality.

57. The impact of more diverse providers of education will not be able to be tracked. Accountability to local communities, parents and the public is diminished and fair access compromised.

58. Local authorities and the Schools Adjudicator must retain a key strategic role in monitoring admissions and securing compliance with the Code. Amendments are needed to achieve this.

Duties in relation to school meals (clause 35)

59. Whilst this appears to be a positive development, it is flawed in the following respects:

(i) academies are excluded from the provisions and, therefore, can charge whatever they consider appropriate; and

(ii) the level of the cap is not defined.

60. Excluding academies will enable them to levy charges that could be a barrier to parental choice and admission, leading to selection on the basis of socioeconomic background.

61. Taken with other provisions in the Bill on charging, it is clear that the principle of state education as a public service, free at the point of delivery, is in danger of being compromised.

Establishment of new schools (clause 36)

62. This clause undermines parental choice and the democratic decision making and accountability of local authorities to local communities.

63. It removes a local authority’s ability and flexibility to respond to local need, contrary to the Coalition’s stated policy of localism.

64. To paraphrase Henry Ford, this provision means ‘you can have any school as long as it’s an academy’.

The clause should be deleted.

Constitution of governing bodies in maintained schools (clause 37)

65. The Schools White Paper made reference to reducing the size of governing bodies. However, taking the current stakeholder model and removing two categories is not making governing bodies more effective. It is a further manifestation of the ideology of severing links between schools and local authorities, while at the same time removing the two categories of governors most likely to have a broader perspective and to challenge the headteacher.

66. Making the headteacher automatically a member of the governing body compounds the existing issues of headteachers being members of the body to which they are accountable.

This clause should be deleted.

School inspections – exempt schools and FE institutions. The focus for inspection (clauses 39, 40 and 41)

67. No school should be exempt from external inspection designed to quality assure provision and ensure public accountability.

68. Further, the criteria for exemption are not on the face of the Bill, enabling them to be changed and manipulated for political reasons.

69. In the interests of public accountability and transparency, all schools should be scrutinised through a fair, proportionate and supportive inspection process.

These provisions should be deleted.

70. The refocusing of inspection onto four areas results in provisions inconsistent with the general duties of the Equality Act, in particular, how a school provides for different groups of pupils, including on the basis of gender and ethnicity. These strands are not on the face of the Bill, whereas disability and SEN are. Either this provision covers all the equality strands, in which case there is no need to feature SEN and disability, or all equality strands should be included.

71. Looked after children are also omitted.

72. The removal of the duty to inspect community cohesion will mean that this important duty will be ignored.

73. It is of particular concern that the inspection requirement on financial management has been removed.

Schools causing concern: powers of the Secretary of State (clause 43)

74. This is another example of centralisation of power and the introduction of a provision that can be used to accelerate academy expansion.

Repeal of powers to complain to local commissioner (clause 44)

75. With the severing of the links between schools and local authorities, the provision for parents to have an external, independent route for complaint is even more important.

76. The abolition of this right is being proposed even before the pilot in 14 local authorities has concluded.

77. This is a further example of disempowering parents and removing external, independent scrutiny and accountability.

The provision for parental complaints to the Local Commissioner should be retained.


Local authorities’ financial schemes (clause 45)

78. This generalised provision enables the Secretary of State to overturn local democratic budget making processes and priorities. This centralises control and undermines democratic accountability of local authorities to local communities.

This clause should be deleted.

Determination of permitted charges (clause 47)

79. The extension of the current definition of ‘optional extras’ for which a charge can be levied cannot be divorced from the Coalition Government’s stated ambition for the core ‘classical curriculum’. The definition of what constitutes core education, for which no change can be levied, is linked directly to national curriculum content.

80. The result will be subsidised childcare and education for those who can afford it and charges for a whole range of provision that is currently free.

81. These provisions can be used by schools to exclude families on socioeconomic grounds. The Coalition Government’s savage cuts to the education budget will drive schools to use these provisions.

Further education institutions: amendments (clause 48)

82. This clause establishes FE institutions as totally independent, state funded bodies, divorced from any external scrutiny or accountability. It calls into question the purpose these institutions are serving, if they are no longer required to promote economic and social wellbeing in a local area or consult certain groups in connection with decisions that affect them.

83. The provision to borrow money or form or invest in a company without any external scrutiny, coupled with the provision for any person or body to apply to the Secretary of State to establish a college without reference to the local authority, indicates that these provisions are designed to open up post-16 provision to the independent and private sectors.

Part 6: Academies

84. All of these provisions seek to address what the Coalition Government perceives as ‘deficiencies’ in the Academies Act and to remove ‘barriers’ to the establishment of academies and free schools.

Post-16 education and alternative provision (clause 51)

85. The NASUWT is opposed to alternative provision (PRUs), that are a community resource, being able to acquire academy status.

86. The introduction of technical schools will increase the academic/vocational divide, are expensive, unnecessary and, at a time of severe financial restraint, will reduce the resources available to existing schools.

87. The NASUWT is opposed to independent schools accessing state funding and depleting the resources available for other schools.

These provisions should be deleted.

Consequential amendments 16-19 academies and alternative provision (clause 52)

88. This enables free schools providing post-16 provision to be established. These institutions will take funding from the existing institutions and jeopardise their viability. This provision is to provide opportunities for businesses to apply to set up, at the expense of the state, training institutions to meet their requirements.

These provisions should be deleted.

Academy orders

Academies: consultation on conversion (clauses 54 and 55)

89. This provision revisits the current provision in the Academies Act which is making a mockery of the concept of consultation. Governing bodies are manipulating the provision, failing to consult any appropriate groups and disregarding their public law duties.

90. Given the profound implications of a change to academy status consultation should be a requirement and should be open and inclusive.

91. The Bill should require full consultation and define the appropriate groups to be consulted. The procedure and timescales to be followed should be stated and only on conclusion of the consultation, following conscientious consideration of representations and when it is clear there is support for conversion, should an application for an academy order be made.

Transfer of property, rights and liabilities to academies (clause 56)

92. These are excessive powers for the Secretary of State, providing complete control over the liabilities to be transferred to an academy. There is no justification for a school, choosing to become an academy, leaving liabilities with local taxpayers.

93. This is another clause designed to remove what the Secretary of State considers to be ‘barriers’ to conversion.

This provision should be deleted.

Academies: new and expanded educational institutions (clauses 57 and 58)

94. These provisions seek to remove barriers to faith schools conversion and minimise opposition.

Academies: Land (clause 59 and Schedule 13)

95. These provisions are the mechanism for acquiring land for academies and free schools.

These provisions should be deleted.

Part 7: Post-16 education and training


The apprenticeship offer (clause 65)

96. There has never been more need for apprenticeships than at a time when youth unemployment is rising and young people are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis.

97. It is, therefore, deeply disturbing that provisions are being sought to suspend the apprenticeships offer as a result of economic difficulties or difficulties with supply or demand. This calls into question the long term commitment of the Coalition to apprenticeships.

Raising the participation age

Duty to participate in education and training: commencement (clause 69)

98. These provisions cast serious doubt over the Coalition Government’s commitment to ensuring that raising the participation age is a worthwhile and meaningful process.

99. Without enforcement mechanisms, many employers will not take responsibility for facilitating training and the whole exercise will be rendered meaningless.

Part: 8 student finance

Student loans: interest rates (clause 70)

100. The NASUWT remains opposed to the principle of student loans.

Part 9: powers of the national assembly for Wales

Professional standards of teachers and others: Funding of pre-16 education and training (clauses 72 and 73)

101. The NASUWT has deep reservations about the motivation for the inclusion of these clauses, particularly those in relation to professional standards.

102. Having received assurances from the Wales First Minister that the Wales Assembly has no intention to seek devolution of powers over teachers’ pay and conditions of service, the provision on the professional standards does include the pay standards in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document, which covers England and Wales.

103. The NASUWT believes that a full impact assessment of these provisions needs to be provided to justify their inclusion.



104. The NASUWT believes that provisions of the Bill:

(i) are based on ideology rather than evidence;

(ii) represent a significant centralisation of power and control into the hands of the Secretary of State for Education;

(iii) disempower parents and local communities;

(iv) undermine the rights of children and young people;

(v) undermine public accountability; and

(vi) do nothing to enhance standards or quality of education.

February 2011