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Baroness Blackstone: I have heard what the noble Lord, Lord Baker, has said. This is exactly the kind of issue that we are considering. We shall note his remarks. On Report, we shall return with amendments to deal with these issues.

Baroness Blatch: I am partly encouraged that thinking is still going on in the department. The words of the Bill are:


In response to my question as to whether parents could quite specifically raise money, quite specifically for this purpose, and give it to the governing body to spend on their behalf to save the very existence of a school, the noble Baroness said that she supposed they could do that. She then went on to offer the criticism that they might be wasting their money.

The truth is that, under the Bill as it presently stands, that would not be allowed. I hope that that point will be taken on board by the noble Baroness in any further thinking. I also hope that the noble Baroness will give us sight of the amendment ahead of Report stage. If an amendment is not forthcoming, that will be rather late for us to table one ourselves. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 233F to 233K:


Page 77, line 11, leave out ("maintained school within the meaning of section 99") and insert ("school maintained by a local education authority").
Page 77, line 19, leave out ("the governing body of a school") and insert--
("(a) the governing body of a school maintained by a local education authority,
(b) the proprietor of an independent school, or
(c) a local education authority,").
Page 77, line 20, leave out ("upon it").

Page 77, line 23, at end insert--

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("( ) For the purposes of this section and section (Ballot regulations: eligibility of parents to request and vote in ballot), in their application in relation to any time falling before the appointed day, a grant-maintained school or a grant-maintained special school within the meaning of the Education Act 1996 shall be taken--
(a) to be a school maintained by a local education authority, and
(b) to be maintained by the authority in whose area it is situated.").
Page 77, line 24, after ("section") insert ("and section (Ballot regulations: eligibility of parents to request and vote in ballot)").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 233KA not moved.]

Clause 100, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 233L:


After Clause 100, insert the following new clause--

Ballot regulations: eligibility of parents to request and vote in ballot

(".--(1) In relation to a ballot under section 100(2)(a), ballot regulations shall provide that, subject to such exceptions as may be prescribed, the parents eligible to request and vote in the ballot are--
(a) registered parents of registered pupils at the following schools, namely--
(i) where the ballot relates to all grammar schools within the area of a prescribed local education authority, all schools maintained by that authority; or
(ii) where the ballot relates to all grammar schools within a prescribed area, all schools maintained by a local education authority which are situated in such area as may be prescribed, together with (if the regulations so provide) all schools maintained by such local education authority as may be prescribed;
(b) registered parents of registered pupils at independent schools where--
(i) such parents are resident, and
(ii) the schools are situated,
within the area of the prescribed local education authority or (as the case may be) the prescribed area; and
(c) parents of children of a prescribed description where such parents--
(i) are resident within the area of the prescribed local education authority or (as the case may be) the prescribed area, and
(ii) have registered with the designated body in accordance with section 100(4)(b).
(2) In relation to a ballot under section 100(2)(b) or (c), ballot regulations shall provide that, subject to such exceptions as may be prescribed, the parents eligible to request and vote in the ballot are parents of registered pupils at any school from which a prescribed number of pupils have transferred to the grammar school or schools in question--
(a) at such age or ages, and
(b) during such period,
as may be determined in accordance with the regulations; and such regulations may provide that where, within that period, any such grammar school has been established in substitution for another school, the schools are to be treated as a single school for the purposes of determining eligibility.

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(3) Ballot regulations shall provide--
(a) in relation to a ballot under section 100(2)(a), that a request for such a ballot must be made by a number of eligible parents equal to at least 20 per cent. of all parents falling within subsection (1)(a) or (b) above; and
(b) in relation to a ballot under section 100(2)(b) or (c), that a request for such a ballot must be made by at least 20 per cent. of all parents falling within subsection (2) above.
(4) Ballot regulations may provide for a parent's eligibility for the purposes of--
(a) making a request for a ballot,
(b) voting in a ballot, or
(c) determining the number of parents required to make a request by virtue of subsection (3),
to be determined by reference to such different times as may be determined in accordance with the regulations.
(5) Ballot regulations may make provision for determining whether parents are resident in an area for the purposes of subsection (1)(a) or (b).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 101 [Implementation of decision that school should cease to have selective admission arrangements]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 233M:


Page 77, line 27, leave out ("was to the effect that one or more grammar schools should cease") and insert ("shows a simple majority of votes cast (by persons eligible to vote in the ballot) in favour of the grammar school or schools to which the ballot related ceasing").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 233N and 233P not moved.]

Clause 101, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 102 [Proposals by governing body of grammar school to end selective admission arrangements]:

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford moved Amendment No. 233Q:


Page 78, line 3, at end insert--
("( ) Any revision of the admission arrangements of a school under this section shall be subject to a ballot of parents.").

The noble Lord said: I shall be brief and direct. This clause sets forward proposals to allow a governing body to end selection. Our amendment proposes that members of a governing body should not have that power on their own, but that parents of children at the school should also have an influence on the decision. They should be balloted. The reason for that has already emerged in this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Baker, spoke about a situation in Marylebone, about which I remember reading, where the governing body changed quickly.

Given the nature of a governing body--with people from the LEA, parent governors and co-opted governors--there is always a possibility that a small clique on the governing body can have an influence over the policy of a school. Anyone who has been concerned with education will know that the balances that are meant to exist in a governing body do not always work.

So this is a belt and braces amendment. In a case where a governing body did not continue to have the trust of parents to make a drastic change in the arrangements for the school, it would not be allowed to do so; the parents would have a say. I suggest that it is a reasonable amendment, well within the spirit of the

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democracy espoused by noble Lords opposite. There is nothing duplicitous or deceitful about it. It is a nice amendment. I commend to the Committee.

7.15 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone: The suggestion is that this is a nice amendment. The noble Lord will not be surprised when I say that I do not agree. It is about the alternative route to change for grammar schools. If a governing body wishes the admissions arrangements to be non-selective, then this clause makes it possible for that to be so. The noble Lord said that small cliques on governing bodies can alter the course of what might happen. I have been a governor in the past for a number of years in various kinds of schools, and that has not been my experience.

Amendment No. 233Q puts an inappropriate obstacle in the path of the governing body which wants to publish proposals to end selection. It would required a grammar school to ballot parents before publishing proposals under Clause 102 to remove selection. However, under the statutory proposal system--both now and in the future--those who publish proposals have a duty to consult interested parties before doing so. Grammar schools would therefore be expected to include parents in their consultation before publishing proposals to remove selection. So the substance of what the amendment seeks will already be built into the procedures. If parents do not like what the governing body is proposing, they will be able to object--as I am sure they will--and those objections will be considered by the school organisation committee.

The purpose of Clause 102 is to allow a grammar school to publish non-selective proposals if the school wishes. That is as it should be. Most grammar schools already have this power under the current statutory proposals procedure. Clause 102 simple extends it to those grammar schools where currently only the LEA could publish proposals to remove selection. Regulations will make it clear that, if parents have triggered a ballot, that would take precedence over non-selective proposals which had not yet been decided. I hope that is helpful.

To reiterate, under the statutory proposal procedure, parents will be able to make their views clearly heard--through consultation. They can also, if necessary, lodge objections to proposals. I therefore ask the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, to withdraw his amendment.


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