School Standards and Framework Bill — Establishment of education action zones — 11 Mar 1998

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord):

With this, it will be convenient to discuss new clause 20-- Special educational needs --

I do not wish to rehearse the debate on statementing that I have previously had with the Minister--and will have again when she makes known the outcome of the consultation--but it is clear that the statementing process will be retained. It is, therefore, important that LEAs identify clearly in their education development plans how they will undertake the statementing process. The Green Paper also states:

"The great majority of SEN assessments will be completed within the statutory timetable."

It is important that that requirement is included in the Bill.

The Green Paper states, on page 70:

"The Government has a central responsibility for raising standards and promoting progress for all children, including those with SEN."

We do not disagree. That wording is almost identical to the explanatory notes in the Bill when it describes the responsibilities of LEAs to provide an education development plan for submission to the Secretary of State. The Bill states that education development plans are a statement of proposals for developing provision of education by raising the standards of education and improving the performance of schools. The two definitions are therefore compatible.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

New clause 15 raises the question of target setting and the relationship between individual schools and their local education authorities. The new clause would require governing bodies to consult their local education authorities before setting performance targets. That will be achieved by amending the Education Act 1997. I am delighted that the Under-Secretary will respond to the debate on the new clause. If she checks her records, she will see that, during debate on that earlier legislation, she was a sponsor of amendment No. 208. As new clause 15 is almost identical to the amendment that she proposed approximately one year ago, I look forward to her support when we discuss the issue further.

The new clause is about target setting and the relationship between local education authorities and schools. It is now accepted by all hon. Members that target setting can play an important role in helping to raise standards. That is why the Liberal Democrats are prepared to support the Government's initiatives in that regard. However, we are conscious of the fact that target setting alone will not raise standards; other processes must be in place. After all, there is little point in setting a high hurdle unless we help people get over it.

A more important issue is the nature of the relationship between local education authorities and individual schools. There was considerable debate about that in Committee. I think it fair to say that Opposition Members were somewhat confused about the nature of the Government's understanding of the relationship between schools and LEAs. That was particularly true in relation to target setting. There was considerable confusion about who would be responsible for agreeing or setting targets. For example, I refer to the contribution by the Minister for School Standards in Committee on 29 January, when he said:

"The LEA will need to engage in discussion with the school and agree targets for it."

The confusion about who is responsible for setting targets is part of the reason for my confusion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn .

Amendment made: No. 79, in page 1, line 9, leave out 'may' and insert 'shall'.--[ Mr. Jamieson .]

Amendment made: No. 80, in page 3, line 1, leave out 'may' and insert 'shall'.-- [Mr. Jamieson.]

I beg to move amendment No. 121, in page 10, line 7, leave out from 'purpose' to the end of line 9 and insert--

'(a) with the consent of the governing body of every school which it is proposed should be a participating school, and

(b) where the LEA is not making the application, with evidence that it has been consulted by the proposers, with a view to being a partner in the Education action zone.'.

The hon. Gentleman is concerned about situations in which the LEA may not be the driving force behind the proposal. The guidance states:

"In others, a proposal to create a zone might come from a business, community or voluntary organisation, in conjunction with a group of schools"--

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 48, Noes 284.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 000.0%
Independent0 10100.0%
Lab282 (+2 tell) 0068.1%
LDem0 39 (+2 tell)089.1%
PC0 3075.0%
UUP0 5050.0%
Total:282 48052.2%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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