On the first day of the committee stage of the Academies Bill, Members of the House of Lords discussed proposals for amendments to Clause 1, Academy arrangements.
The opposition spokesperson for the Department of Education, Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, proposed the first amendment under discussion.
Discussion during the first day of the committee stage included:
- the role of councils protecting the welfare of children, providing enough school places, ensuring standards, fair admissions policies, distributing funding and supporting pupils with special educational needs
- performance of academy schools
- the different labels and categories for school and the differences between the Bill’s proposals for academies and other kinds of existing schools
- education in deprived communities
- reforms to education in Sweden
- the relationship between the proposals to create ‘free schools’ and the proposals in this legislation for existing schools to become academies
- consultation with affected local communities.
Statement on Free Schools policy
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lord Hill of Oareford, repeated an answer to an urgent question asked in the House of Commons. The answer outlined Government proposals for the creation of new ‘free schools'.
Issues raised in the discussion that followed included:
- the involvement of local authorities
- how new schools will be funded
- surplus places in existing and proposed free schools
- whether there would be a requirement for those providing new schools
- using public funds to reinvest profits
- evidence of parental and public demand
- planning requirements for new schools, including disabled access
- admissions code for free schools
- the continuing professional development for teachers, including the introduction of a Masters qualification in teaching and learning
- the role of ‘parent promoters’ in ‘parent-led’ free schools over the term of a contract.
A Private Notice Question (PNQ) gives Members of the Lords the opportunity to raise urgent matters.
Members submit PNQs to the Lord Speaker, who consults with party Leaders and the Convenor and then decides whether the question is urgent or important enough to justify an immediate reply. The Lord Speaker’s decision on whether a PNQ can be asked is final.
After a Government statement, normally to announce matters of policy, government actions, and national or international emergencies, members can respond or question the minister for a limited period following a statement.
Statements are normally read out by a minister but can also be made in writing. A statement can be made in either or both Houses.