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Baroness Ashton of Upholland: In so far as it seeks to protect the employment rights of school employees, the amendment is commendable. However, it would make no difference to the principles or practice of an order modifying employment enactments for the purposes of delegated staff functions of school governing bodies. The protection of employment rights was upheld in the only order made under Section 81 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and the only order made under its predecessor, Section 222 of the Education Reform Act 1988.

I assure the Committee that we have no intention of introducing an order that might diminish pre-existing employment rights. On the contrary, the purpose of an order made under Section 81 is to give full effect to employment rights where employment powers are delegated from local education authority employers to school governing bodies. That ensures that those who take such decisions are properly accountable for them under employment law.

The order made under Section 81 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 that currently applies does not diminish the employment rights of staff. Nor does it release any employer from duties imposed by employment enactments. Local education authority employers do not carry out all employer functions if a school is operating with delegated powers, but the authority still has a role in advising governing bodies. Depending on the circumstances, the authority may be made an additional party to proceedings if an employment tribunal application has been made against a governing body.

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The amendment is unnecessary. In asking the noble Baroness to withdraw it, I reinforce the assurance given in the other place by my honourable friend the Minister of State for School Standards about the rights of school staff employed by LEAs when redundancies are in prospect. We shall make it clear that LEAs will be subject to the same duties as they are for their other staff and must consider alternatives to redundancies before resorting to termination of contracts, when governing bodies no longer need any of their staff. That position is not the result of an order made under Section 81 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, but of a staffing provision in Schedule 16 to that Act, which this Bill will repeal and replace with regulations and statutory guidance issued under Clause 34.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp of Guildford, said, my honourable friend the Minister for School Standards said that we would give further thought to the doubts that surround some transfers of staff to and from maintained schools, following the Askew judgment. We have carefully examined transfers of staff between schools in the light of that judgment and the questions that it raised. Practical experience of current staffing arrangements does not make a clear case that there is a problem in that area. In addition, we consider that the provision for staffing arrangements in Clauses 34 and 35 will remove any adverse effects on employment rights. We will consult on the regulations and statutory guidance to be issued under those clauses before they come into effect. We will, of course, listen carefully to any representations that we receive concerning the protection of the employment rights of staff. I hope that, on that basis, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I thank the Minister for her reply. I take on board the fact that she feels that the provisions of Clauses 34 and 35 and the regulations to be made under them will be sufficient.

It is, as the Minister will agree, a complex issue. We will examine her answer carefully and think about whether we need to come back to her directly or on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 35 [Staffing of foundation, voluntary aided and foundation special schools]:

[Amendments Nos. 149 to 153 not moved.]

Clause 35 agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Effect on staffing of suspension of delegated budget]:

[Amendments Nos. 153A and 153B not moved.]

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clause 36 agreed to.

Clause 37 [Interpretation of Chapter 1]:

Baroness Ashton of Upholland moved Amendment No. 154:

    Page 24, leave out lines 3 to 6.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Baroness Walmsley moved Amendment No. 155:

    Page 24, line 10, leave out "or a maintained nursery school"

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 155, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 156. They are probing amendments. There are several inconsistencies in the Bill relating to the definition and status of nursery schools. We would like to know, quite simply, whether the various provisions apply to maintained nursery schools, rather than debate whether the application of the Bill's provision would bring benefits or disadvantages to nursery schools.

I shall give detail of the places where clarification is needed. I am aware that the Minister has had notice of that. In Clauses 1 to 4, the measures on innovation appear to apply to nursery schools. Is that correct?

In Chapter 2, Clauses 5 to 9, we assumed that earned autonomy does not apply. Why is that? In Chapter 3, Clauses 10 to 12, are we correct in believing that the measures about companies apply? In Part 2, we wonder whether Clauses 13 to 17 in relation to grants apply.

In Part 3, Chapter 1, do the measures on the government of maintained schools apply to nursery schools? In Chapter 2, on the financing of maintained schools, will nursery school funding be part of the local education authority's school budget and the individual school's budget, as defined under Clause 39?

In Chapter 3, Clause 44, will nursery schools be represented on admissions forums? Am I right in assuming that Clause 49 on exclusions applies? Does Clause 50 relating to attendance targets apply, even though it is ridiculous to set attendance targets for non-compulsory education?

In Part 4, we believe that Clause 51 applies, but what about Clauses 52 to 56, which appear not to apply? Perhaps the Minister can give us some clarification on that.

In Part 5, does Clause 69 apply? I assume that Clause 70 applies to nursery schools and that they can be part of a federation school.

There are places where Parts 6 and 7 apply where relevant. I assume that all of Part 8 applies, but is there any clause in Part 8 which does not apply to nursery schools?

I presume that Part 9 on childcare and nursery education applies. I assume that Part 10 applies where relevant.

In Part 11, does Clause 179 apply to trainee teachers in nursery schools? We presume that it does but perhaps the Minister will clarify that. Are there any implications in terms of the provision of free school meals to part-time pupils in maintained nursery schools? Do Clauses 197 and 198 apply? I understand that they amend previous legislation to make way for the foundation stage, so clearly they affect nursery schools?

What are the implications in Clause 200 for the recoupment of funds to nursery schools? Does primary education in this clause at page 121, line 38, include education in nursery schools? I beg to move.

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4.30 p.m.

Baroness Blatch: I rise only to support the noble Baroness in asking those questions. Reading the Bill, it seems impossible to ascertain what does and does not apply. Maintained nursery schools are specifically mentioned in some parts of the Bill, but in other parts they are not. In some cases, therefore, it is implicit that they are included and it is seen fit to put that on the face of the Bill. However, it is important to ensure that we know what parts of the Bill pertain and have an impact on which category of school.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I am in a little difficulty. The question is whether it would be more appropriate to write to the two noble Baronesses who have raised the points—I could certainly do that—or whether they and the Committee have the patience for me to deal in detail with all the questions that were asked. They were asked in advance and I believe that I have the answers to hand.

If that is the wish of the Committee, I will gladly do that while prefacing what will be an inordinately long reply by saying that the intention behind the Bill is to bring nursery schools within the scope of the governing body in school management requirements in Part 3. We have been out to extensive consultation on this matter and had an overwhelming response in favour of the broad framework.

Baroness Walmsley: Before the Minister goes any further, it may be helpful to him to know that I shall be content for him to write to me about the detail of my amendment.

Baroness Blatch: I am sorry to add a sour note but I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, has done some painstaking work in asking the questions and it is important that they should receive an answer. We in the Chamber are self-indulgent but another body of people is most interested in the answers. If we receive a letter from the Minister, that will be helpful to us in improving our understanding, but the answers will not be a matter of public knowledge. Therefore, for the sake of the record it is important that the answers are given in the Chamber. Those who are concerned and who ultimately will be affected by the clauses will then be able to read the Government's response.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I am of a puritanical rather than self-indulgent frame of mind, so here goes!

The first question related to the power to innovate, earned autonomy and school companies. It is the case that maintained nursery schools are explicitly identified as qualifying schools. That is to be found on page 2, line 13, in Chapter 1 of the Bill.

As regards Chapter 2, Clauses 5 to 9, the noble Baroness asked whether earned autonomy applies and why. Maintained nursery schools are not judged against normal performance/leadership criteria. The flexibilities under earned autonomy are limited to teachers' pay and conditions and the national

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curriculum. There is no freedom for maintained nursery schools in relation to the foundation stage of the national curriculum and therefore there is little to be gained by maintained nursery schools qualifying for earned autonomy.

On Chapter 3, Clauses 10 to 12, the noble Baroness asked whether the powers to form companies applies. Yes, those provisions do apply. Clause 10(8) defines "maintained school" to include maintained nursery schools. As regards Part 2 relating to new grant-making powers, the noble Baroness asked whether Clauses 13 to 17 apply. Yes, all those clauses apply. I think that is an obvious point.

On Part 3, Chapter 1, the provisions apply to the government of maintained schools. Clause 37(1) defines "maintained school" to include maintained nursery schools for Clauses 18 to 38. Clause 27(3) and (4) make one exception regarding the power to send pupils elsewhere for training.

On Chapter 2, the financing of maintained schools, the noble Baroness asked whether nursery school funding will be part of the local education authority's school budget and individual school's budget, as defined under Clause 39. Yes, paragraph 99 of Schedule 21 amends the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

The noble Baroness asked whether nursery schools will be represented on admissions forums, dealt with in Chapter 3, Clause 44. No, they will not. Again, that is an obvious point. As she said, Clause 49 relating to exclusions and the power of head teachers to exclude pupils, does apply, but she asked whether Clause 50 relating to attendance targets applies. No, Clause 50 does not apply. As the noble Baroness indicated, it would be rather ridiculous to set attendance requirements for pupils who are not under a statutory obligation to attend.

On Part 4 relating to the powers of intervention, the noble Baroness said that Clause 51 setting out the duty to notify where inspection shows schools causing concern applies but asked whether Clauses 52 to 56 apply. Clauses 52 to 56 do indeed apply. Paragraph 92 of Schedule 21 amends the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

As regards Part 5 on school organisation, Clauses 62 to 68 do not apply. Clause 69 proposes alteration by the governing bodies of community schools. Nursery schools are not community schools, so that does not apply.

The noble Baroness presumed that Clause 70 on proposals to establish a federated school does apply as nursery schools can be part of a federation of schools. Indeed they can and therefore those provisions apply also to nursery schools.

In Parts 6 and 7, the curriculum in England and Wales, it is correct that that applies where it is relevant. Part 9 relating to childcare and nursery education also applies.

I believe that I have dealt with the main points that the noble Baroness raised. However, if there are additional questions to which she needs answers I have

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one or two additional points in my brief. I was not sure whether in her long list of questions she had covered everything.

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