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Education secretary to order creation of regional adoption agencies

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Local authorities could be forced to form regional adoption agencies and handed powers to tackle the use of legal highs under proposed legislation announced in the Queen’s speech today.

As well as the high-profile Housing Bill and Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, other legislation announced today which have implications for councils are the Education and Schools Bill, the Childcare Bill, the Extremism Bill and the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

The former is the most significant of these and will give the education secretary power to compel councils to form regional adoption agencies. The briefing note said the government would set out a definition of a “coasting” school and under the bill schools that meet this definition would be “eligible for academisation”. The bill will also legislate so that academisation is the usual outcome when a school is rated inadequate by Ofsted.

Under the Childcare Bill, in addition to their existing responsibilities in this area, local authorities will be required to publish information about the provision of childcare in the local authority area and other services that might be of benefit to parents or children.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill is intended to “enable police and local authorities to adopt a proportionate response to the supply” of new psychoactive substances, or legal highs. The bill would include provision for civil sanctions – prohibition notices and prohibition orders, where breach of the latter would be a criminal offence.

The Extremism Bill will hand police and councils powers to close down premises used to support extremism.

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