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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Committee has agreed to Amendments Nos. 1 and 2, which are paving amendments for Amendment No. 31. Amendment No. 31 will remove the schedule to the Bill and replace it with a new schedule dealing with religious hatred only. The Government will, therefore, not today oppose Amendment No. 31.

Amendments Nos. 4 to 30 are to the existing schedule, and the final decision on the schedule will not be made until Amendment No. 31 is reached. Strictly speaking, Amendments Nos. 4 to 30 and Amendment No. 3, which is to Clause 1 are not pre-empted and must be called by the Chairman.

Any of those amendments may be debated. It is of course a matter for Members of the Committee who have tabled them to decide whether they wish to move them in the light of the decision that the Committee has just made.

Lord Grocott: I beg to move that the House be now resumed for the Statement.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

Schools White Paper

5.44 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): With the leave of the House I shall repeat a Statement on school reform made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills.

"With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the reform of schools.

"Every child matters and children have only one chance of a good school education. Our ambition is for every child to get that chance and to develop their talents to the fullest extent. The White Paper that I am publishing today aims to make this aspiration a reality by building systematically on eight years of rising school standards and sustained investment by this Government in the teaching profession and school reform.

"It places parents at the heart of education, extending parental choice and giving schools the freedom they require to meet parental demand and pupil need in radically new and better ways.

"Since 1997, the quality of teaching and leadership in our schools has been transformed. Primary schools now have a daily literacy hour and mathematics lesson, with smaller primary school classes and significant investment in the training of primary teachers and assistants. Secondary schools
 
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have benefited from a systematic upgrading in the number, quality and training of subject specialist teachers. Graduate applications for secondary school teaching have risen by 60 per cent in just six years. There are 32,000 more teachers than in 1997, and the number of school support staff has doubled over the same period

"Ofsted reports the proportion of good or excellent teaching in primary schools rising since 1997 from 45 per cent to 74 per cent, and from 59 per cent to 78 per cent in secondary schools. The proportion of badly taught lessons has halved.

"Thanks to our literacy and numeracy strategies, around 96,000 more children a year start secondary school able to do well in basic maths and 84,000 more do so in English. There have been big improvements at GCSE level, too, with 63,000 more 16-year-olds achieving five or more good GCSE passes than in 1997. Change has been greatest in many areas of historic underperformance. In inner London 50 per cent more young people gained five good grades this year than eight years ago. Specialist schools consistently out-perform other schools, and nearly 2,400 have now been established. Twenty-seven academies are already open, with more to come.

"There are now 413 non-selective schools where 70 per cent or more pupils gain five good GCSEs. In 1997 there were just 83.

"This is a record of success. But challenges remain. For all the progress so far, too many 11 year-olds still leave primary school without mastering the 3Rs. Too many 16 year-olds are still not achieving good GCSEs or vocational qualifications, and too few are staying in education post-16. Parents often feel disengaged, and too many schools are coasting. Those who fail to achieve too often come from the least advantaged backgrounds.

"We are at an historic turning point. We have an education system that has overcome more than half a century of underperformance. With courage to reform further by placing the parent and the pupil right at the heart of the system, we can now make our schools truly world class—a system that commands parental confidence and extends excellence to all.

"There will be no return to the divisive 11-plus; no return to the unfair assisted-places scheme; no return to privileging a few schools at the expense of the rest. Instead, teaching will be rigorously tailored for pupils of all aptitudes in schools that are unafraid to be distinctive, proud of their individual ethos, yet proud, too, of the communities they serve.

"Our best schools and school leaders are models in all these respects. The challenge of change is for all schools to emulate the best, forging whatever partnerships they need to enhance their leadership and mission, while giving parents real power to drive change.
 
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"Today's White Paper sets out six key reform priorities to bring this about. First, to improve teaching and learning, we will provide significant new incentives for schools to tailor education to the needs of each and every child. There will be more use of small group and one-to-one tuition, particularly for those who fall behind. We will intensify our focus on literacy and numeracy, which are the keys to success in all subjects. There will be expanded opportunities for gifted and talented pupils. We will further encourage setting and grouping pupils by ability. We will continue to expand and improve provision for pupils with special educational needs, enabling far more special schools to join the successful specialist school movement and share their expertise widely with all local schools. There will be a national delivery plan for the creation of the new specialised diplomas that I announced in February to transform educational choices for pupils beyond the age of 14. All this will be underpinned by the Government's record investment in schools, including £335 million to be specifically earmarked for personalised learning within the new dedicated schools' grant that I announced to the House last week. Workforce reform and the increased use of ICT will further transform the capacity of schools to meet the needs of each and every child.

"Secondly, we will give all schools the independence they need to drive radical improvements in standards and the flexibility to create real centres of excellence. Building on our successful specialist school and academies programmes, we will extend academy-style freedoms and opportunities to thousands of schools through new trust schools. These self-governing schools will be funded by local authorities but will partner with and be supported by not-for-profit trusts established for example by successful educational foundations, leading schools and universities, parents' groups and voluntary organisations. These schools will bring extra dynamism and expertise to education. All schools will be eligible to be trust schools, alongside our planned 200 academies. I am pleased to announce that a range of outstanding organisations, including Microsoft, the Open University, the Mercers' Company and Thomas Telford School, the United Learning Trust, the Church of England, KPMG and. the Peabody Trust, have agreed to work with us to develop the trust model, bringing to it extensive educational and school management experience, together with strong links to local communities.

"Thirdly, we will improve the choice of schools for parents by giving less affluent parents the means to make choice effective, and by putting in place much more rapid mechanisms for turning round and replacing failing schools. A choice between weak or failing schools is no choice at all. Schools that are still failing after a year will be closed, federated with another more successful school or replaced with an academy or another new provider. Our new inspection regime will focus on schools that
 
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are coasting, as well those that are failing. We will raise the bar on underperformance across the system. In addition, we will improve the advice for parents on the options available; we will improve transport to school, particularly for the most deprived pupils where the cost of transport can be a barrier; and we will promote admission systems that extend access, ensuring fair admissions for all new schools.

"But the role of the parent does not stop with the choice of school. Education works best where schools and parents work together, with each recognising both their rights and their responsibilities. So fourthly, we will enable all parents to contribute much more fully throughout a child's school career, with better support, information and advice, especially at key transition points. We will place a new duty on governing bodies to have regard to parent's views. We will improve the quality and regularity of the dialogue between parents and schools, including reports at least once a term in place of the existing minimum of once a year. We will give parents a new right of complaint to Ofsted if local procedures have been exhausted.

"Fifthly, teachers and heads have asked for better support to tackle disruption and ill discipline. So we will implement Sir Alan Steer's recommendations, giving teachers a clear statutory right to discipline and giving schools an unambiguous power to set and enforce their own discipline codes. Parents will take their responsibilities seriously or face sanctions where they do not, including fixed penalty notices for parents who do not properly supervise pupils who are excluded from school. Pupils excluded for more than five days, not 15 days as now, will be expected to attend supervised education units.

"Sixthly, we will underpin our reforms with a new and crucial role for local authorities. They will become the commissioner of education, the champion of the pupil and the parent and the local strategic leader. They will tackle coasting and failing schools. They will oversee competitions to deliver new schools. And they will work with the new Office of the Schools Commissioner that I will create to promote new trust schools and academies in response to parental demand. Many local authorities are already pioneering this approach. We now need all our local authorities to do so.

"These reforms mark a watershed in the development of our national education system. All our young people deserve the best; we intend them to receive it, so that social mobility once again accelerates as the engine of a fairer and more prosperous society. Every pupil receiving a tailored education. Every parent with real choice. Every school with the freedom to deliver. I commend the White Paper to the House".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

5.54 pm


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