Written - Welsh Provisions in the Education and Skills Bill
The Education and Skills Bill was introduced into the UK Parliament on the 28 November and published on the 29 November 2007.
The purpose of the Education and Skills Bill is to raise to 18, in England, the minimum age at which young people can leave education or training, and bring in the legislative changes needed to implement key elements of the Leitch Review into the UK’s long term skills needs.
Although raising the participation age will not apply in Wales there are a number of provisions in the Bill that will apply equally to Wales as in England. There will also be two Measure powers in the Bill, one in relation to pre 16 inspections and the other in relation to registration of independent schools. The first Measure power is in the Bill at introduction, the second is expected to be introduced at a later date by amendment.
The current England and Wales provisions are in relation to school forums, data sharing, qualifications and curriculum.
Proposed Measure Powers
Inspection of Education and Training for those aged 16 Years and Under
The proposed provision is to add inspection of education and training provided for those aged 16 years and under to the Matters set out in the Government of Wales Act 2006 under Field 5 (education and training). This would complement the Measure power in the Further Education and Training Act 2007 in respect of the inspection of further education.
The Measure power would allow, as a minimum requirement, the National Assembly to legislate in respect of the inspection of education and training provided in institutions identified at section 28(2) of the Education Act 2005. Those institutions are:
- Community, foundation and voluntary schools;
- Community and foundation special schools;
- Maintained nursery schools; and
- Special schools which are not community or foundation special schools but are approved by the Welsh Ministers under section 342 of the Education Act 1996.
The Regulation, Registration and Inspection of Independent Schools in Wales.
The proposed provision is to add the regulation, registration and inspection of independent schools in Wales to the Matters set out in the Government of Wales Act under Field 5 (education and training). This would complement the measure making power that is being sought in the Education and Skills Bill for inspection of education and training for those aged 16 years and under, as well as that in the Further Education and Training Act 2007 in respect of the inspection of further education.
The Measure power would allow the Welsh Assembly Government to make law about any of the following:
- the conduct of an independent school in Wales. [For this purpose, conduct should be taken to refer to all aspects of a school’s operations, be those educational or concerned more generally with pupil welfare, and whether or not they take place on school premises. Conduct should be capable of being shaped through regulations or individual directions given to an independent school by the registration authority];
- the registration of an independent school in Wales, including the creation of rights of appeal against decisions of a registration authority;
- the inspection of independent schools in Wales
- the prohibition and limitation on participation in management of independent schools
School Forums - this provision would provide a regulation making power that will allow an amendment to be made to section 47A(1) of the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998, to make it compulsory for the membership of schools forums to include non-schools members. This would enable the Welsh Assembly Government to make changes, if necessary, following the completion of a review of the role of school forums.
Data sharing - this provision simply proposes that the same powers on data sharing are obtained for Wales as in England.
These powers will enable us to monitor the effectiveness of new approaches to integrating skills and employment services to help move people from welfare into work, in support of the One Wales target of an 80% employment rate.
The new powers will not conflict with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. The data that is shared with the Welsh Assembly Government for the purposes outlined above will be aggregated and anonymised.
Changes to the remit of Qualifications & Curriculum Agency (QCA) - there are two proposed provisions for changes to the remit of QCA in the Bill, and the same powers are being sought for the Welsh Ministers in Wales. These are:
Amendment to Section 30 of the Education Act 1997 – Statutory recognition of bodies awarding or authenticating accredited qualifications
It is proposed to change the remit of QCA (and the powers of the Welsh Ministers) by making provision for the statutory recognition of bodies offering or authenticating accredited qualifications or wishing to submit units on to the proposed Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), which is currently in its trial and testing phase.
Repeal of Section 99(4) of the Learning and Skills Act 2000
The Learning and Skills Act 2000 provides that courses leading to external qualifications cannot be provided in schools (in respect of persons under 19) or be funded from the public purse (in respect of persons below and over 19), without the approval of the Secretary of State (in England) or the Welsh Assembly Government (in Wales).
Section 98 provides, inter alia, that, in England, such approval can be given by the Secretary of State or by a body designated by him, subject, in the latter case by reason of Section 98 (4) that “an approval given by a designated body is ineffective unless the Secretary of State consents to the approval”.
Section 99 of the same Act provides the Welsh Ministers with the same approval function and consent function in relation to Wales. This is a technical amendment to remove what seems to be an anomaly in the current legislation.
The Education and Skills Bill is available on the Parliament website at http://services.parliament.uk/bills/