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TORIES FAIL IN BID TO SCRAP SCHOOL BALLOTS - AND TO KEEP SPIRIT OF SECTION 28

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Hansard 27 June: Column 733-878 ...
Hansard 27 June: Column 733-878

MPs were kept sitting until the early hours of this morning to complete the commons' stages of the Learning and Skills Bill - which began life as a fairly non-controversial measure to reorganise

post-16 education and training through reorganisation of training and enterprise councils and the Further Education Funding Council.

But when the Bill was introduced in the lords, Baroness Young succeeded in forcing through an amendment aimed at retaining Section 28 of the Local Government Act, which prohibits local authorities promoting homosexuality. This, in turn, led to the government producing draft guidelines for all schools and LEAs on the teaching of the importance of all stable relationships.

Last night, Conservative MPs introduced amendments that would restore Baroness Young's amendment and ensure the guidelines compelled teachers to advocate heterosexual marriage and family life as the aspirational ideal. It was defeated by 303 votes to 129.

Picking up another subject tacked to the Bill in the lords, Conservative MPs attempted to scrap current arrangements to allow parents in areas with a selective grammar school system to ballot

on whether to change admission procedures to local schools. This group of amendments was defeated by 330 votes to 132 votes.

And a Conservative attempt to underpin funding for school sixth forms and FE colleges, in order to allow students who had opted to go to sixth form colleges or FE colleges to return to sixth forms if they felt they had made the wrong choice, was defeated by 323 votes to 122. The amendment reflected Conservative fears that the government eventually intended to abolish sixth forms in schools - a charge vehemently denied by education and employment secretary David

Blunkett, who insisted there was no hidden agenda.

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