Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Nineteenth Report


Memorandum by the Department for Education and Employment

(AMENDMENT) (NO. 3) REGULATIONS 1997 (S.I. 1997/2816)

By letter dated 17 December 1997 to Department's Legal Adviser, the Joint Committee have requested a memorandum on the following point:

    "By the new regulation 13(6), the information about the performance of primary schools required of local education authorities is to be published to the specified recipients in most cases by providing copy documents or, in the case of a local newspaper, by providing a copy document or a computer disk. Explain why, in the case of the provision of the information to the Department for Education, it is to be by copies of a document and a computer disk".

1. New regulation 13(6)(b)(i) of the Education (School Performance Information) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 1997 (S.I. 1997/2816) requires the provision by a local education authority of three copies of the document and a computer disk containing the relevant information to the Secretary of State. The requirement is in these terms because the Secretary of State wants to make the information published by each of the one hundred and thirty-two local education authorities in England available on the Internet and for reference in the libraries of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The computer disk is required to facilitate the transfer of the information to the Internet. Two of the three copies of the document are required for the library of each House because the libraries ask for printed copies of the publications.

2. The remaining copy of the document provides a visual reference for the Secretary of State as to what has been published in document form. Moreover, the information on the computer disk may not be identical to that in the document. One may contain additional information, over and above that required by the Regulations, to that contained in the other. For that reason, the Secretary of State require both computer disk and copy document containing the information so as to see all that is published.

3. As regards the choice of providing copies of the document or a computer disk to local newspapers, it is considered that one or other is sufficient for the newspapers' purposes. In practice, it is likely that a request will be made by the local newspaper to the local education authority for one or the other. In relation to publication of school performance information by the Secretary of State, newspapers have sought computer disk information rather than copies of the document itself. They are likely to prefer, and be able to make greater use of, the flexibility allowed by computer access to the information.

4. It is not considered that local newspapers are disadvantaged in this in any way. In any event, a local education authority would be free to give both copies of the document and a computer disk containing the information to a local newspaper if it so wished.

6th January 1998

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