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Lords continues further scrutiny of Schools Bill at report stage

19 July 2022

A group of students in a school classroom facing away from the camera. One student in the centre has raised their hand

The House of Lords continued futher examination of the Schools Bill on the final day of report stage, on Monday 18 July.

The Schools Bill aims to empower the government to make new regulations regarding the operation of academies, funding for mainstream schools, school attendance, the register of independent institutions and teacher misconduct.

The 2022-2023 session of Parliament ended (prorogued) on 26 October 2023 and so this bill will make no further progress.

Information on the bill's consideration in the House of Lords can be found below.

Detailed scrutiny  

Report stage is an extra chance for members to closely scrutinise elements of the bill and make changes.   

Monday 18 July

Members speaking at report stage put forward amendments (changes) to the bill to be discussed. The amendments covered a range of topics including:

  • registration of children not in school
  • school attendance
  • adding education on democracy, the rule of law and the environment to the curriculum
  • making defibrillators available in schools
  • creating a duty for education providers to report suspected child sexual abuse.

Before report stage continued, on Sunday, the government announced it would put defibrillators into all state-funded schools in England, in response to a proposed change from Lords members. Speaking about the change, minister Baroness Barran said ‘I acknowledge the extraordinary work of the Oliver King Foundation and thank all noble Lords who put their names to the amendment for their tenacity in continuing to make the case for defibrillators so persuasively.’

This change is in addition to the removal of the first 18 clauses of the bill, previously agreed after members raised their concerns on government powers over academies.

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Next steps

Third reading, a chance for members to make sure the eventual law is effective, workable and without loopholes, is scheduled for 14 September.

If no amendments are put forward, members may discuss the progress of the bill at the conclusion of Lords stages.

How to follow

Explore further information

Read background on the bill in the House of Lords Library Schools Bill briefing.

What's happened so far?

Report stage day one: Tuesday 12 July

Members speaking at report stage put forward amendments (changes) to the bill to be discussed. The amendments covered a range of topics. 

Government agrees to Lords proposals to change the bill

Following committee stage, the government committed to removing clauses 1 to 18 and the first two schedules of the bill, following concerns raised by members across the House. These clauses and schedules are regarding the regulation of academies and government powers to intervene in their operation.

Baroness Barran, the minister in charge of the draft law in the Lords said: 'I have taken on board the concerns raised by your Lordships and the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform and Constitution Committees about Clauses 1 to 18, which is why the government will be supporting amendments at this stage to remove them from the bill.’ 

Further changes considered

In addition to these changes, members considered amendments on topics including:

  • strengthening the rights of parents and increasing the public accountability of schools

  • role of local authorities in the education system and in championing the interests of vulnerable children

  • preserving the status of specialist schools

  • school funding and the pupil premium

  • free school meals and support for vulnerable children and families

  • special educational needs or disability (SEND) support

  • careers education in primary schools.

Members also raised issues with the time allocated for Lords scrutiny of the bill following these changes. Lord Baker stated 'The clauses will be important and a way must be found, and a guarantee given by the government before we pass third reading, for us to have plenty more time to discuss it in this House, should we pass third reading. This bill started in this House and can be improved again in this House.'

Lords divisions 

There were  two divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill.

Religion and worldviews education

The first vote was on amendment 30, which inserts a clause to ensure an academy without a religious character provides religion and worldviews education to all pupils at the school.

Members voted 82 in favour and 145 against, so the change was not made.

Free school lunches

The second vote was on amendment 58, which inserts a clause to extend the provision of free school meals to all children whose parents are in receipt of Universal Credit.

Members voted 51 in favour and 108 against, so the change was not made.

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Committee stage day six: Monday 27 June

Members discussed amendments (changes) to the bill on a range of subjects, including:

  • the condition of school land and buildings, and school building safety
  • reporting on spoken language and communication skills
  • creating a COVID-19 recovery plan for schools.

Subsequently, the government committed to removing the first 18 clauses and two schedules of the bill at report stage, following concerns raised by members across the House.

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Committee stage day five: Wednesday 22 June

Members discussed amendments (changes) to the bill on a range of subjects, including:

  • school attendance orders
  • the relationship between local authorities and home educators
  • timeframes for the registration of children not in school
  • mental health support
  • unregistered education providers and Ofsted powers
  • the charitable status of independent educational institutions
  • safeguarding of children.

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Committee stage day four: Monday 20 June

Members discussed amendments (changes) to the bill on a range of subjects, including:

  • careers education in primary schools
  • parental rights to review school curriculum material
  • setting mandatory topics in the national curriculum, including digital skills, financial literacy and life skills, and making offering work experience mandatory in schools
  • supporting greater collaboration between schools, academies and colleges
  • funding for specialist education services for children and young people with sensory impairment, and closing the education attainment gap for young people with SEND
  • a review of policy on children not in school, registration, data collection and protection.

Catch up

Committee stage day three: Wednesday 15 June

Members discussed amendments (changes) to the bill on a range of subjects, including:

  • whether specialist schools should be required to become academies and join Multi Academy Trusts (MATs)
  • consultation requirements on schools becoming academies or joining MATs
  • fundraising within MATs
  • reforms to the national funding formula for schools
  • funding to provide transport costs for students aged 16-19
  • assessing the impact of schools funding in rural areas
  • providing funding for mental health support
  • free school meals and pupil premium funding
  • the government also committed to provide further clarification on the draft law before report stage, following concerns members have raised at committee stage so far.

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Committee stage day two: Monday 13 June

Members discussed amendments (changes) to the bill on a range of subjects, including:

  • tackling unregistered schools
  • creating secure schools and academies, and consultation with local government
  • the charitable status of academies
  • ministers' powers to apply and disapply education legislation, and consultation
  • the religious designation of church schools
  • making academies subject to local government guidance on admissions
  • requiring academies to employ qualified teachers and follow guidance on teacher pay and conditions
  • collective worship and assemblies in academies with a religious character.

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Committee stage day one: Wednesday 8 June

Members discussed amendments (changes) to the bill on a range subjects, including:

  • limiting the breadth of, or removing, ministers' powers created by the bill to set academy standards
  • setting consultation requirements, including with teachers and parents, for new regulations affecting academy standards
  • adding pupils' mental health and SEND provision to standards that are set for academies
  • governance of academies, including requiring academy trusts have at least two parent trustees, or ensuring each academy in a MAT has an individual governing body.

Catch up

Second reading: Monday 23 May

Members discussed the main issues in the bill and drew attention to specific areas where they thought amendments (changes) were needed during second reading. Topics covered during the debate included: 

  • improving the standard of reading, writing and maths in primary schools
  • supporting schools to join multi-academy trusts
  • reforming the school funding system to give all children the same opportunities
  • developing an attendance policy for schools, trusts, governing bodies and local authorities
  • introducing a register for children not in schools
  • broadening the scope of the current teacher misconduct regime 
  • careers advice and development for teachers and students
  • funding areas of educational underperformance
  • keeping schools well maintained, safe and operational
  • doing more for children with special education needs and disabilities
  • children's mental health
  • powers for government in the bill and capacity of the Department for Education to deliver regulation.

Members speaking

Baroness Barran (Conservative), Minister for the School System, opened the debate and responded on behalf of the government.

Members speaking in the debate included:

  • Baroness Brinton (Liberal Democrats), former chair of the Cambridgeshire Learning and Skills Council
  • Lord Lingfield (Conservative), director of the Centre for Education & Finance Management Limited
  • Baroness Morris of Yardley (Labour) adviser to the Institute of Effective Education
  • Lord Nash (Conservative), trustee of the Education Policy Institute

Find out more about the issues discussed:

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