Education Bill report stage: day three

27 October 2011

The House of Lords debated the report stage – consideration of all the proposed changes (amendments) – of the Education Bill for the third day on Wednesday 26 October.

Three amendments – one amendment on local input to decide the type of any new school that is to be established in a local area and two amendments about school inspections – were defeated.

Clauses 34, 36, 39 and 40, and schedules 10 and 11 were discussed. A further day of report stage is scheduled for Tuesday 1 November.

Baroness Hughes of Stretford moved Amendment 70A to clause 36 of the Bill on the establishment of new schools. Under clause 36, where there is need for a new school in a local area, the local authority would have a duty to seek proposals for setting up an academy school before any other types of school could be considered. Arrangements for a new academy school would be made between the Secretary of State for Education and the provider of the school – and not the local authority. Furthermore, local authorities would also have to obtain the consent of Secretary of State for Education to before seeking proposals to set up any other type of school.

Amendment 70A would have required an assessment of local need and consultation with parents and the local authority in the decision-making on the type of new school to be set up in an area.

Seeking a vote on the amendment Baroness Hughes explained: ‘Although we on this side support academies in principle, the principles of local determination and a diversity of provision from which parents can choose are more important.’

The House of Lords voted against the amendment by 181 votes to 141.

An amendment to remove clause 39, which exempts schools from inspection in certain circumstances, was also defeated. Moving Amendment 76, Lord Knight of Weymouth expressed concern about ‘a potential gap in the inspection regime’ and ‘the ‘open-ended nature of the clause’ which could allow the Secretary of State to exempt academies and free schools from inspection.

The amendment was defeated by 204 votes to 181.

Amendment 78, moved by Baroness Flather, sought to require school inspectors to report on the contribution to community cohesion made by schools. Moving the amendment, Baroness Flather explained: ‘We now have free schools which will be very different from state schools. They will be free schools, so they will need that particular provision even more. We also have faith schools that will definitely be single faith schools, not schools where half the pupils or two-thirds of the pupils are from other faiths. It is extraordinarily important not only that those schools have responsibility for community cohesion but that Ofsted has the responsibility to check them for it.’

The amendment was defeated by 235 votes to 176.

Day five

Discussion on Monday 24 October covered clauses 18, 24, 27 30, 31, and 34 of the Bill. The House of Lords voted on three amendments.

Discussion covered clauses 18, 24, 27 30, 31, and 34 of the Bill. The House of Lords voted on three amendments.

Report stage continues on Wednesday 26 October.

Amendment 57C, moved by Baroness Jones of Whitcurch, sought to ensure that all pupils receive careers advice from year 8 onwards. ‘This is the year that the majority of pupils turn 14 and start to make decisions about their study options for GCSE, and it is vital that they understand the implications of those choices for their future careers,’ Baroness Jones explained, moving the amendment.

Seeking to test the opinion of the House, Baroness Jones said: ‘There is too much reliance on research and on data about how the new careers advice service will be monitored in the future, but young people need a provision and guarantees now. They need guarantees that they will have access to someone on a personalised basis and that they will be given advice by a qualified practitioner. We do not accept that the Minister has given sufficient guarantees.’

The amendment was defeated by 169 votes to 233.

Amendment 58, also moved by Baroness Jones, seeking to ensure that careers advice for pupils in schools was provided qualified staff from accredited service providers was also defeated. The House of Lords voted against the amendment by 225 votes to 161.

The House of Lords also defeated amendment 63A, moved by Baroness Hughes of Stretford, which sought to insert a duty to ensure fair access to opportunity for education to the schools admission code. Moving the amendment, Baroness Hughes explained: ‘There should be a duty outside the school system itself – that is, in the admissions code and with the Secretary of State – to ensure that that fairness is really built into the system and that the system is really operating in that way.’

The amendment was defeated by 118 votes to 44.

Day one

The first day of debate, on Tuesday 18 October, provided the first opportunity for the Lords to vote on any amendments to the Bill, following grand committee on the Bill, which finished on 4 October. The House voted on two amendments.

The House of Lords defeated amendments concerning the powers of school staff to search pupils – by 244 votes to 171; and the exclusion of pupils from school – by 170 votes to 138.

Further information

The House of Lords does not vote on amendments to a Bill during grand committee – unlike committee stage in the chamber. Amendments to Bills in grand committee can be agreed to or rejected without voting, and usually concern issues on which there is clear agreement.

The wide-ranging Bill seeks to implement the legislative proposals in the Department for Education’s White Paper, 'The Importance of Teaching' and measures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills relating to the reform of higher education funding. The Bill:

  • provides for the introduction of targeted free early years care for children under compulsory school age
  • makes changes to provisions on school discipline, and places restrictions on the public reporting of allegations made against teachers 
  • abolishes five quangos: the General Teaching Council for England, the Training and Development Agency for Schools, the School Support Staff Negotiating Body, the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and the Young Person’s Learning Agency and gives new powers to the Secretary of State as a consequence of some of these changes 
  • removes certain duties on school governing bodies, local authorities and further education institutions, including the duty on local authorities to appoint school improvement partners 
  • makes changes to the arrangements for setting up new schools, and amends the Academies Act 2010 to make provision for 16 to 19 academies and alternative provision academies 
  • includes measures relating to school admissions, school meals, composition of school governing bodies, school inspection, school finance and permitted charges. 

A Lords Library note provides background information on the Bill and summarises the Bill’s stages in the House of Commons.

A report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights published on 13 June made a number of recommendations in relation to the powers in the Bill for teachers to search pupils.

Passage of a Bill

Report stage gives all Members of the Lords further opportunity to consider all amendments – proposals for change – to a Bill.

Image: PA

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