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EDUCATION ISSUES IN THE QUEEN'S SPEECH: DETAILS

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Legislation proposals announced today in the Queen's speech will include measures to improve discipline in schools,...
Legislation proposals announced today in the Queen's speech will include measures to improve discipline in schools, extend choice and diversity for parents, and raise standards.

The Education Bill to be introduced early in the new session will cover the following main areas:

Measures to Improve Discipline and Behaviour in Schools:

-- Giving schools the power to detain pupils after school without the consent of their parents

-- Giving schools the power to exclude pupils for 45 days in any year, rather than the current 15 days per term

-- Allowing for schools to refuse to admit a child unless his or her parent has signed a home-school agreement

-- Withdrawing parents' right to choose a new school in cases where their child has already been excluded from two or more schools

-- Placing a duty on each school to draw up a discipline policy setting out: the standards of behaviour which it expects; how good behaviour and discipline will be encouraged; the sanctions which will be applied where those standards are breached

-- Strengthening the rights of schools to be represented at appeal committee hearings on pupil exclusions; and placing a duty on appeal committees to have regard to the interests of other pupils and staff at the school, as well as the interests of the excluded pupil, when considering whether to reinstate that pupil

-- Placing a duty on each LEA to draw up and publish a plan setting out what forms of support they provide for schools in dealing with disruptive pupils, and their arrangements for carrying out their duties in respect of excluded pupils and others not attending mainstream schools

-- Setting up management committees to oversee the running of Pupil Referral Units (which cater for excluded pupils and other children not attending mainstream schools), including representatives from local schools

Measures to Raise Standards

-- Baseline assessment of children entering primary schools. All primary schools would be required to assess pupils shortly after they are first admitted to the school to provide information to help teachers plan the child's education and establish a baseline from which future progress could be measured

-- Requiring schools to set targets for improving their performance, particularly in the key subjects of the National Curriculum

-- Improving the quality of careers education and guidance by: requiring schools to provide a planned programme of careers education and guidance for all 14-16 year olds; requiring schools and colleges to provide pupils and students with access to good careers information; requiring schools and colleges to co-operate with the careers service, including giving access to premises and information on pupils and students

-- Extending the powers of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) to inspect LEAs. Ofsted would be able to inspect what LEAs do in providing education for children of school age, and in supporting schools, particularly in raising standards. Such inspections, could be carriedout in co-operation with the Audit Commission

-- Merging the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) and the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) to form a new Qualifications and National Curriculum Authority (QNCA). The authority's remit would be to oversee both academic and vocational qualifications in England and ensure that the curriculum and assessment arrangements in schools, and the qualifications available in schools, colleges and the workplace, were coherent and of high quality

Measures to Promote Choice, Diversity and Deregulation:

-- Allowing for different types of school to select a proportion of pupils by ability or aptitude without needing to seek central approval: Grant-maintained secondary schools would be able to select up to 50% of their pupils; Specialist schools - ie technology and language volleges and in future sports and arts colleges - in the LEA sector would be able to select up to 30% of pupils by ability or aptitude in their specialist subject; Other schools would be able to select up to 20% of their pupils.

-- Giving LEA schools which want to become fully selective grammar schools a right of appeal to the secretary of state if the LEA does not respond constructively to their proposals

-- Giving LEA specialist schools a right of appeal to the Secretary of State if the LEA does not respond constructively to proposals to use their power to select pupils

-- Requiring secondary schools to consider once a year whether to introduce or increase selection by ability or aptitude, as part of a wider review of how they can develop to meet local needs and extend choice for parents

-- Giving GM schools the power to set up nurseries, sixth forms and boarding facilities, and expand their capacity by up to 50%, without needing central approval

-- Giving the Funding Agency for Schools (FAS) power to set up new GM schools in all areas where they are needed

-- Enabling the FAS to meet the development costs of third party promoters in drawing up plans for setting up new GM schools

-- Allowing county specialist schools to appoint sponsor governors. GM and voluntary aided specialist schools can already appoint sponsor governors who represent the school's business or charitable sponsors. These arrangements would be extended to cover all specialist schools

-- Allowing the appointment of ballot observers for schools balloting for GM status, with a remit of ensuring fair play in ballot campaigns

-- Enabling the FAS to provide advice and assistance to the governing bodies of GM schools not just about financial problems (which it can already do) but also about management and governance problems

Other Measures:

-- Bringing agency teachers within the scope of the requirements which already apply to all other teachers on medical fitness, qualifications and barring on grounds of misconduct or health. The rules on barring would also be extended so that they apply to support staff and volunteers who have regular contact with children inschools

-- Extending the Assisted Places Scheme to cover the full primary age range bringing in free-standing preparatory schools which only take pupils up to age 11

-- Defining the beginning of compulsory school age, so that it links to three fixed dates in each year which would apply nationally, rather than, as now, linking to varying school term dates set by individual LEAs and schools.

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