The Education and Adoption Bill
What does the bill do?
The Bill enables the Secretary of State for Education to decide what makes a school a failing or coasting school through regulations and then to use that to push a school into becoming an academy. The government’s argument is that being an academy gives more power to Headteachers and teachers – but actually the Bill gives more power to politicians in Westminster.
We all know how well that worked with the attendance policy regulations. We think this is another move to distance parents from education and needs to be fought.
Parents are a huge part of the story in children’s learning inside and outside school – if the government want to improve attainment and help children, it needs to look at measures which bring parents into education, not push them out.
What Are People Saying About the Bill
Baroness Pinnock “I wonder whether we are at risk of thinking that accountability for children’s education – their one chance to get a good education – is all about balance sheets, audits and professionals coming to some conclusion having looked at attainment levels. At their heart, parents are concerned about whether their children are happy in school, whether bullying has been dealt with and whether they get opportunities outside school for extensive education – creative, artistic or sporting. That is the accountability I am talking about, not some dry dusty PxwC report that parents may not be able to understand. They do understand what happens to their children’s experience in schools. Where can they ask the questions?” (Source: Hansard)
Lord Watson of Invergowie: “In the eyes of this Government…parents are regarded as worthless, or at least their opinions are….Millions of parents don’t know what is about to happen to them. If they did, there would be much more of an outcry…it is a shocking dilution of what parents are entitled to expect…” (Source: Hansard)
The Teaching Profession:
“NAHT, ATL and NUT are working together to express our concerns that, unamended, the Education and Adoption Bill will remove an important layer of democracy and public involvement in schools and in communities across the country.” National Association of Headteachers and Association of Teachers and Lecturers “Missing the Point” (pdf).
“The risk of this clause is that it undermines the home-school relationship at a time when this is needed to support change and may put the new school structure at a deficit. It signals to parents that their views aren’t to be considered and positions them as unimportant despite the prevailing research that confirms their engagement as important to their child’s education.” http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmpublic/educationadoption/memo/educ09.htm
“Tough new measures to turn around failing schools which will ‘sweep away bureaucratic and legal loopholes’ that previously prevented schools from being improved. Previously, campaigners could delay or overrule failing schools being improved by education experts by obstructing the process by which academy sponsors take over running schools. In some cases campaigners have delayed intervention by drawing out debates, refusing to provide important information and blocking vital decisions.
But the Education and Adoption Bill, being laid in Parliament today, will force councils and governing bodies to actively progress the conversion of failing schools into academies, removing roadblocks which previously left too many pupils languishing in underperforming schools.” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/up-to-1000-failing-schools-to-be-transformed-under-new-measures
What does the Bill do?
The Bill’s provisions, as summarised in the House of Commons Library Briefing on the Bill, are as follows. For schools in England, the Bill’s provisions would:
- Require every school judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted to be turned into a sponsored academy. The Government has estimated an extra 1,000 schools could be converted to sponsored academy status over the current Parliament.
- Give new powers to the Secretary of State for Education to intervene in schools considered to be underperforming, and constrain local authorities from doing so in some circumstances.
- Expand the legal definition of the ‘eligible for intervention’ category to include ‘coasting’ schools, and enable (but not require) the Secretary of State to turn such schools into sponsored academies or intervene in them in other ways.
- Allow the Secretary of State to issue directions, with time limits, to school governing bodies and local authorities, to speed up academy conversions.
- Place a new duty on schools and local authorities in specified cases to take all reasonable steps to progress the conversion.
- Require schools and local authorities in specified cases to work with an identified sponsor toward the ‘making of academy arrangements’ with that sponsor.
- Remove the requirements for a general consultation to be held where a school ‘eligible for intervention’ is being converted to a sponsored academy.
It’s interesting to note that, again – like the term time holidays regulations – the Bill only applies in England. Education powers are devolved to other parts of the country, where there is much more local oversight and involvement in schools. eg Parent Councils in Scotland http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/parentzone/gettinginvolved/parentcouncils/index.asp
What is the amendment we’d like accepted?
We will be asking the Lords to accept an amendments which restores the consultation rights. You can see the wording here: