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GOVERNMENT DEFEATED THREE TIMES AS EDUCATION BILL LEAVES LORDS

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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley ...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

The wide-ranging and controversial Education Bill was given an unpposed third reading in the lords - but only after opposition and cross-bench peers inflicted three defeats on the government.

They rejected proposals to allow schools to create companies by 183 votes to 141;

by 135 votes to 128 they introduced a new clause imposing a duty on the education secretary and local education authorities to limit new regulation and to control the amount of material sent to governong bodies and head teachers, and requiring the secretary of state to publish an annual report to parliament setting out progress on this, and, by 161 votes to 136, they deleted Clause 42 from the Bill which sought to create unelected bodies called 'school forums' which would be allowed to make decisions about the deployment of LEA money.

The Bill goes to the commons with a new clause, accepted without division, requiring all schools to put in place arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Should teachers fail to spot symptoms of child abuse, they can be disciplined or dismissed. All schools will have a nominated staff member to liaise with social services and with children. Local authorities will have new powers that will make teachers legally responsible for the welfare of pupils, even if abuse or harmful acts occur outside school hours.

Ofsted will be given a new duty to check that these systems are in place.

The government's main claim for the Bill is that it is intended to encourage innovation in schools, who will be able to apply to the education secretary, for example, for exemption from parts on the national curriculum or other statutes. However, it also gives government new powers and means of intervening in failing schools and LEAs.

Hansard 3 July 2002: Column 223-318

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