Education Secretary, Michael Gove, introduced the second reading of the Academies Bill [HL] in the Commons. It passed with a vote and will be considered further in Committee of the whole House. It has already passed all its stages in the House of Lords
Summary of the Bill
The Bill would enable more schools in England to become academies. The Government expects a significant number of academies to open in September 2010, and for the number to grow each year. Academies would be funded at a comparable level to maintained schools but would also get their share of central funding that local authorities used to spend on their behalf. Schools that apply to become academies would be allowed to keep any surplus balances that they hold. There would be no expansion of selection but grammar schools and other schools which select or partially select pupils would be able to continue to do so.
- enables all maintained schools to apply to become academies, with schools rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted being pre-approved
- allows maintained primary and special schools to apply to become academies in their own right
- gives the Secretary of State the power to issue an academy order requiring the local authority to cease to maintain the school
- removes the requirement to consult the local authority before opening an academy
- requires the consent of any existing foundation (mainly churches) before a school applies to become an academy (and prohibits the religious character changing during the conversion to academy)
- deems academy trusts to be exempt charities.
Committee of the whole House
When a Bill passes its second reading and is considered in detail, this normally takes place in a Public Bill Committee held outside the Chamber. These Committees -which are made up of between 16 and 20 MPs - reflect the political makeup of the House, so the government always has a majority.
But occasionally a Bill will be considered by a Committee of the whole House and this discussion takes place in the Commons Chamber itself, where all MPs can take part.
Any Bill can be referred to a Committee of the whole House, but the procedure is normally reserved for finance bills and other important or controversial legislation.