Education Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) (E 31)

1. The Catholic Education Service advises the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on all educational matters across 22 dioceses in England and Wales.

Part 1: Early years provision

2. CESEW welcomes the provisions enabling local authorities to introduce free early years provision for children of two years of age from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Part 2: Discipline

3. We are concerned that the term ‘reasonable force’, as used in clauses 2 and 3, lacks clarity and is open to interpretation. We believe that the enactment of these clauses could result in legal action being taken against staff members where the reasonableness of the force used is disputed and this in turn could lead to increased insurance premiums for schools. Furthermore, we feel that extending powers of search violates the fundamental dignity of the human person and do not consider it appropriate to ask staff or students to alter their current search powers.

4. We believe that clause 5 could potentially endanger children if parents do not know their whereabouts. We would welcome further guidance about how this provision will be applied to ensure that parents are informed when their child is given a detention. We would also welcome information about what provision will be made for children who care for siblings or other relatives to ensure that detention does not prevent them from doing so and how the removal of the requirement to give notice will be applied so as to ensure that access to school transport is not undermined.

Part 3: School workforce

5. In clause 8, the definition of ‘relevant employer’ in the amended s141D of the Education Act 2002 makes no reference to the governing body of a voluntary aided or foundation school where the governing body is the employer. We ask that this clause be amended to include governing bodies as employers as described above.

Part 4: Qualifications and the curriculum

6. We welcome the proposal in clause 27 that governing bodies will have responsibility for ensuring that pupils receive appropriate careers advice suitable to their needs. We believe it is more appropriate for schools, rather than external bodies, to assist pupils in their decision-making. We would expect governing bodies to work closely with teachers and parents to ensure that the advice given is appropriate to the needs of the pupil in the context of the ethos of the school.

Part 5: Educational institutions: other provisions

7. We welcome the proposed slimming down of inspection requirements and the retention of the requirement to assess the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at schools in clause 40.

Part 6: Academies

8. We welcome the recognition of diocesan authorities as the appropriate religious authority for Roman Catholic schools in clause 53.

9. CESEW is engaged in ongoing discussions with government about various issues relating to academies, some of which relate to the provisions in this Part of the Bill.

Part 7: Post-16 education and training

10. We welcome these provisions.

Part 8: Student finance

11. We are concerned that this Part could have the unintended consequence of discouraging students from less privileged backgrounds from applying to university. The possibility of higher rates of interest accruing on the student loan may deter such students from seeking a university education. We do not believe these provisions to be in the interests of the common good.

Part 9: Powers of National Assembly for Wales

12. We welcome these provisions.

February 2011