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Baroness Blatch: That is helpful. It will be very important for LEAs to know that as they have to have their budgets set in concrete by March or April. It is at that time that people will have a real understanding of the position.

The purpose was to solicit information, and we have had quite a lot. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that. We need a good deal more. I accept all the chastening remarks that were made about my first amendment.

It is important to note that some local authorities weight pupils by age, some start by counting them, and only a small percentage of the budget is based on numbers; and sometimes other authorities base a very large percentage of the budget on numbers. It is a question of the weighting given to all these factors. The amendment refers to the education needs of children, and subsumed within that are all the education needs that have to be met, including special education.

I finish where I started. When we know what the 100 per cent. is 100 per cent. of; when we know the local school's budget and we have some understanding of the individual school's budget, it would be helpful if the noble Baroness were to come back on one important question which I raised on grant-maintained schools. They enjoy 100 per cent. delegation of central funds now. Will the other schools be phased to come up to that level or will grant-maintained schools, as they become foundation schools, go down to whatever the phased level is at any given time and then be phased up to what is deemed to be the 100 per cent. funding level as the system beds in?

Baroness Blackstone: The Government's intention is that grant-maintained schools should stay broadly at the same levels of funding as they are at present. I hope that answers the noble Baroness's question.

Baroness Blatch: It does, but it means that they will have more central funding and, therefore, more of the central services which they purchase themselves for quite a long time until all the other schools come into play.

There is another important question which flows from that. If there is a ballot in a local authority, and 80 per cent. of the schools vote to have central services rather than

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individual purchasing, does that mean that the authority will go over to providing services centrally and that any grant-maintained school that may be in the 20 per cent. that opted for individual purchasing will lose that control?

Baroness Blackstone: Yes, it obviously would mean that, because the majority of schools, 80 per cent., voted in favour of doing something in a particular way. We would expect a minority of schools to accept that that was the view of the majority of schools. That seems to be the only sensible democratic way of proceeding.

Baroness Blatch: I find that deeply unfortunate. If 20 per cent. of schools--and in many counties that is a lot of schools--have opted to be individually responsible for their own finances and the management of their own schools, but are forced to hand the money back to the local authority, on the one hand, that seems to fly in the face of individual local financial management. On the other hand, if 80 per cent. of schools in an LEA opt for central services, that is the economical, viable figure; then what is the problem about the other 20 per cent.? The LEA has its viable figure. It has 80 per cent. of schools opting for the LEA to provide services. What is the threat from the other 20 per cent.? What stands in the way of that? We shall press the noble Baroness further on that.

I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 158B not moved.]

Clause 44 agreed to.

Clause 45 [Determination of LEA's general schools budget and aggregated schools budget.]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 158E:

Page 37, line 2, leave out (""general") and insert (""local").

The noble Baroness said: This is a tease. This amendment tries to do the Government's job for them. The Government have now rendered these clauses invalid. At some point they have to change. They have to be brought into line with the proposals. We have a conundrum. We have a consultation paper which was issued this week. It is out for consultation and it is not due back until the end of July. I believe that the Government expect this Bill to have Royal Assent by then. Almost as the ink is dry on the Royal Assent, this Bill will be inaccurate.

I have to express some serious disappointment. We have rafts of technical amendments to the changes being made to this Bill. We had some before us on Monday and we have some again today. To incorporate the technical changes the counsel and officials must be extremely busy rewriting this Bill as we go along. We know that these clauses will change and we know what the nomenclature will be. My attempt may be feeble; I do not know. When the question was asked whether the clauses would be rendered redundant if the new system was eventually adopted, the department said that the changes were only ones of nomenclature and that nothing else would change. I could have said "Amen" to that, because the system of delegation is well established and will continue.

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To come back again to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady David, the schools which became grant-maintained schools did so voluntarily. All of the other schools had the opportunity if they had wanted to but they did not take it. Under this system the grant-maintained schools will be foundation schools or will have a chance to be foundation schools and/or voluntary-aided schools. The other schools continue to have an option. They can opt to stay with the LEA for everything or they can opt to become self-governing. So nothing changes--only nomenclature. This is my attempt to change the nomenclature. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for doing the Government's work for them. Tabling these amendments, which seek to bring the terminology of the Bill into line with the terminology used in our consultation paper, is most helpful, but I invite her to withdraw them. However, that is simply so that we can check the Bill for any other instances of the old terminology which will need to be changed. Having done that, we will ourselves bring forward appropriate amendments along these lines at Report.

I should stress that the change in nomenclature does not in itself affect the definition of either of the concepts which are being renamed. The local schools budget will be what Clause 45(1) currently says a general schools budget will be. The individual schools budget will be what Clause 45(2) says the aggregate schools budget will be.

Perhaps I may add a word about the reasons for the changes. "Aggregated schools budget" is really a rather mystifying term and the new label "individual schools budget" characterises it much more clearly. I suspect that the noble Baroness agrees with that. It is the quantum or total amount which is available to be distributed to the individual schools as their institutional budgets. As to "local schools budget", that simply brings out that this is the local education authority's schools budget. Although "general schools budget" is understood by those who are initiated in all this, I am not sure that it conveys very much to others. We will be bringing forward amendments at Report stage to put all this on the face of the Bill.

Baroness Blatch: On the basis of that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 158F to 158J not moved.]

6.45 p.m.

Lord Swinfen moved Amendment No. 159:

Page 37, line 20, at end insert--
("( ) The classes or descriptions of expenditure referred to in subsection (3) above shall in particular include those that relate to--
(a) the local education authority's duties towards children with special educational needs;
(b) services provided by the local education authority to reduce exclusions; and
(c) services provided by the local education authority to increase the inclusion of children with special educational needs in mainstream schools.").

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The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 164 and 165. I say at the outset that these are probing amendments.

The purpose of Amendment No. 159 is to ensure that local education authorities are able to hold back from the general schools budget sufficient expenditure to enable them to meet their duties towards children with special educational needs, to provide services to reduce exclusions and to provide services to increase inclusion. The purpose of Amendment No. 164 is to ensure that local education authorities can build into their schemes for delegation the requirement that schools provide information back to them on particular aspects of their expenditure. The purpose of Amendment No. 165 is to ensure that the amount of money delegated to schools to meet special educational needs is made clear and to ensure that the local education authority publishes an expected level of expenditure on SEN. I should like to take the opportunity to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, for kindly writing me a helpful letter after the Second Reading debate.

The Government's consultation paper, Fair funding: Improving delegation to schools, has only just come out and I have given it only very swift perusal. However, it is important to ask for some assurances about what is proposed in that paper. I should say that I am briefed on these amendments by the Special Educational Consortium. As this is only a consultation paper, it is quite obvious that there could be changes before regulations and guidance are produced.

I think there is little doubt that the proposals will make much more transparent a number of areas where LEA expenditure has not previously been so accessible to scrutiny. That is to be welcomed. There will, I understand, be clear blocks of expenditure within the local schools budget, one of which would be for special educational expenditure. Within this, it appears that LEAs will be able to fund special educational needs support services and services concerned with the monitoring of schools arrangements for SEN provision, as well as funding,

    "to promote inter-school co-operation in relation to SEN, or inclusive of pupils with SEN".

However, it is less clear how preventive work at earlier stages of the code of practice might be funded, as all funding for stages 1 and 2 will be delegated to schools, as will "general" funding for stage 3, "general" being funding for costs other than the support services and "large and unpredictable pupil-specific costs", which could include stage 3. It would be excellent to have some clarification from the Government, particularly on preventive work at the earlier stages which is emphasised in the Green Paper.

With regard to Amendment No. 164, it does not appear that an arrangement for schools to report back on different aspects of their expenditure would be built into the new arrangements. Clearly, we would want LEAs to be able to require schools to report on their expenditure on special educational needs. It may be argued by the Government that a combination of the schools' SEN policy requirement and monitoring by the LEA could achieve this. The latter is proposed as a function for which LEAs can retain funding. But in

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respect of the former--schools' SEN policies--these are notoriously weak, according to Ofsted in what it says about the allocation of resources, and this would therefore make for a weak link in the chain. Again, it would be helpful to have some clarification from the Minister. What information might local education authorities be able to require from schools?

With regard to Amendment No. 165, in the consultation paper there appear to be arrangements that will meet these concerns. Paragraph 5 in the appendix on special educational needs says:

    "Without wishing to depart from the principle that a school's delegated budget is an unhypothecated amount, the Government considers it important that each school should be clear what levels and kinds of special need it is expected to meet from its delegated budget, and how much of its budget is notionally attributable to SEN. This is not always the case at present. The intention is that LEAs' schemes, and the revised reporting statement described in paragraphs 83-88, will ensure that LEAs provide each school with details of the way in which its notional SEN budget has been calculated".

In theory, such information could be available now, but it is difficult for schools to pull it out of the morass of figures in the statement that they receive from the LEA. It would be helpful to know what specific arrangements are proposed that might make it more clear. Would a separate letter be issued to schools? Would it state how much of its budget is notionally attributable to SEN? The concern is that if this information is embedded in other figures it will continue to be unclear. I have tried to precis my speech. I am still not very good at it. I was not good at it at school, but I hope that it is one of the subjects that will continue to be taught at school both for verbal and written work. I beg to move.

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