House of Lords - Explanatory Note
Learning And Skills Bill [H.L.] - continued          House of Lords

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Chapter II: Her Majesty's Chief Inspector Of Schools In England

96.     Clauses 57 to 58 extend the existing powers and functions of HMCI to enable him to inspect, advise and report on education in the FE sector for pupils of compulsory school age; further education provided in the FE Sector for those aged 16 and over but under 19 which is funded by the LSC; and further education provided by LEAs for persons under the age of 19. There is a regulation-making power to enable other educational provision to be prescribed as within the remit. HMCI will have a duty to inform the Secretary of State about the quality of provision and standards achieved by persons receiving that education and whether the financial resources made available are used efficiently to provide value for money. HMCI must also give advice, inspect any provision within his remit and make reports on the results of such provision as the Secretary of State may specify. The Secretary of State may add other types of education to the remit of HMCI by making regulations.

97.     Clause 59 provides a duty on HMCI to secure the inspection of institutions within the further education sector, except where the provision is solely with the remit of ALI, at such intervals as may be prescribed in regulations. There are provisions for publication of the reports of these inspections and the writing and publication of action plans by providers where an inspection report has been produced, which are analogous to those applying to ALI (Clause 51).

98.     Clause 60 provides a right of access for HMCI working under the new remit, analogous to that of ALI (clause 54). Clause 61 makes provision whereby providers of education and training prepare and publish an action plan following an inspection by HMCI acting under its extended remit.

99.     Clauses 62 to 64 make provision for area inspections. The Secretary of State will have a power to direct HMCI to conduct an inspection in a specified area of England and to report on the quality, standards, availability and value for money of all education and training for people aged over 16 but under 19 within that area. Where the LSC or an LEA has provided resources for provision which is being examined in an area inspection, the inspection may extend to include the way in which the LSC or LEA has provided these resources and whether they provide value for money. There is also a power for HMCI to undertake such area inspections. When asked by HMCI, the Chief Inspector of Adult Learning must undertake part of the area inspection, and must similarly give advice on education and training within his remit. Those conducting area inspections must have regard to the Common Inspection Framework (see clause 66). There will be a duty on providers and any local authority in the area to provide relevant information to the Inspectors when reasonably requested to do so.

100.     Clause 63 There will be a duty on HMCI to prepare and publish a report of an area inspection, and within that report to record the views of ALI which are relevant to its remit.

101.     Clause 64 makes provisions for the Secretary of State to have a power to require that the LSC and relevant LEAs must produce plans following an area inspection which set out the action they will take within a particular time. In writing an action plan, the LSC and any relevant LEA must consult such parties as the Secretary of State requires them to. Action plans must be published by the LSC and LEAs in a manner prescribed by the Secretary of State.

102.     Clause 65 provides a general power for HMCI to advise the Secretary of State on issues within the new remit; and gives HMCI the power to inspect and report on any education and training within his remit.

Chapter III: The Common Inspection Framework And Joint Inspections

103.     Clauses 66 to 67 make provision for the development of a common inspection framework for the inspection of provision within the two inspectorates' remits.

104.     The framework will be prepared in draft by HMCI and ALI and will comprise a description of the principles and the arrangements by which inspections under this part of the Bill will be conducted. They must publish the draft, and consult the Secretary of State, the LSC and other appropriate persons, providing at least three months for comments.

105.     After taking account of responses, HMCI and ALI will revise the draft. If at any time in this process they are unable to agree on any matter, they may refer this to the Secretary of State for advice. In the event of further disagreement, the Secretary of State may direct HMCI and ALI, who will comply with the direction. The framework will be published and brought into effect on such date as the Secretary of State may direct.

106.     Clause 68 provides for regulations to be made about joint inspections (institutions where the remit of the two inspectorates overlap), which will be under the direction of HMCI. The regulations may provide for the circumstances in which inspection must or may be carried out; the plan of inspection; and for a single report. There are further provisions for action plans after the publication of an inspection report.

PART IV -      INSPECTIONS IN WALES

107.     Clause 69 provides for Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in Wales to be renamed Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales (Prif Arolygydd Ei Mawrhydi dros Addysg a Hyffordiant yng Nghymru), and for HM Inspectors of Schools in Wales to be renamed Her Majesty's Inspectors of Education and Training in Wales (Arolgwyr Ei Mawrhydi dros Addysg a Hyffordiant yng Nghymru).

108.     Clause 71 extends the existing remit of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in Wales (Estyn) to enable her to inspect post-16 education and training provision funded by the CETW or a local authority, and where the CETW or local authority are contemplating giving the provider financial support. The National Assembly may add other types of education and training to the remit of Estyn by making regulations.

109.     Clause 72 sets out Estyn's functions to inform the National Assembly of the quality of provision, standards achieved and whether the financial resources made available to such providers are being managed efficiently and in a way which provides value for money. When requested by the National Assembly, Estyn must arrange for the inspection of provision in its remit, give advice to the National Assembly and report the results of inspections. In relation to this function Estyn must have regard to such aspects of government policy as the National Assembly may specify.

110.     Clause 73 provides that the Chief Inspector must secure inspections, at intervals as may be specified by the National Assembly, by members of her staff and for them to make report to her on the quality of provision inspected, the standards achieved by post-16 learners and whether financial resources available to the provider are managed efficiently.

111.     Clause 74 provides a general power for Her Majesty's Chief Inspector to advise the National Assembly in issues within her extended remit. It also gives the Chief Inspector the power to inspect any post-16 education and training funded under clause 21 on request by the provider, and to charge for the cost of such inspections.

112.     Clause 75 provides that Estyn will have a reasonable right of access to the premises of the providers being inspected, including access to electronic information held on computers. Estyn will also be able to take copies of any records and documents relating to the provision being inspected. Obstruction of Estyn will be an offence.

113.     Clause 76 requires a provider to prepare an action plan following the publication of an inspection report, indicating the actions, and the timing of actions, he proposes in the light of the findings within the report. There is a regulation-making power to govern publication and dissemination of the plans.

114.     Clause 77 enables Estyn, if requested by the National Assembly, to inspect education, training or advisory services provided by the Careers Services companies in Wales.

115.     Clause 78 enables Estyn, at the request of the Secretary of State or the Adult Learning Inspectorate in England, to inspect and report on education and training provision in Wales made by the National Assembly under section 2 of the Employment and Training Act 1973. This will include, for example, education and training provision made under the New Deal.

116.     Clause 79 makes provision for area inspections. The National Assembly will have a power to direct Estyn to conduct an inspection in specified area of Wales. There is also a power for Estyn to undertake such inspections. There will be a duty on providers, the CETW and any LEA in the area to provide Estyn with relevant information when reasonably requested to do so, and on Estyn to issue reports on the inspections made. The National Assembly may make further provision with respect to the obligation to provide information.

117.     Clause 80 provides for the National Assembly to direct Estyn to conduct all-Wales surveys or of specified areas in Wales, on matters relating to policy concerned with post-16 education and training, or comparative studies outside Wales. Estyn will have a power to conduct such surveys without being directed by the National Assembly.

118.     Clause 81 makes provision for Estyn to prepare and present an annual report to the National Assembly. It also provides for Estyn to prepare and publish such other reports on post-16 education and training provision to the National Assembly or others, as the Chief Inspector considers appropriate.

PART V -      MISCELLANEOUS AND GENERAL

Clauses 83 to 120 and Schedules 7 and 8

Clauses 83 and 84: Dissolution of the FEFC for England and the FEFC for Wales

119.     Clause 83 provides for the dissolution of the Further Education Funding Council for England (FEFCE). On the day of its dissolution, its assets, rights and liabilities will transfer to the LSC.

120.     Clause 84 provides for the dissolution of the Further Education Funding Council for Wales (FEFCW). On dissolution, the FEFCW's assets and liabilities will transfer to the CETW.

Clauses 85 to 92: External Qualifications

121.     Clauses 85 to 92 provide for the approval of external qualifications by the Secretary of State for public funding purposes. An external qualification is a qualification externally awarded or authenticated. These provisions do not cover more informal qualifications or courses which do not involve qualifications at all - the funding for which will be for the LSC and CETW to determine. The approvals mechanism and the criteria for approval will be secured administratively by the Secretary of State and the National Assembly or by a body designated by him or it for this purpose - such as the LSC and CETW. Approval can be granted for a particular qualification, particular uses of a qualification or particular classes of qualification.

122.     Clause 85 provides for the approval of external qualifications for those under the age of 19. The effect will be that where a course leads to an external qualification, relevant institutions can only offer programmes of study relating to, and public funding can only be used for, approved qualifications. This will ensure, for example, that the requirements of the National Curriculum are met. Clause 85 replaces sections 400-1 of the Education Act 1996 which deal respectively with compulsory school age pupils and those over compulsory school age but under 19. Clause 85 also replaces their intended successor provision, section 37(1) of the Education Act 1997 as it would have related to these age groups. Neither section 401 nor section 37(1) have ever been brought into force. Together, clause 85 and clause 90 maintain a current requirement for compliance, under section 400 of the Education Act 1996, on the LEA and governing body.

123.     Clause 86 provides for the approval of qualifications for those aged 19 or over. To ensure that the LSC, CETW and other providers can exercise the discretion and make the wider range of provision more appropriate to adult learning, the scope of this measure does not extend to cover the programmes of study leading to external qualifications. Instead, it places a requirement on the LSC, CETW and LEAsfunding authority to ensure thatproviders only make public funding is only used to make payments for fees and charges in respect of external qualifications which are approved. The requirement for compliance can be enforced, under clause 90, in respect of LEAs. Clause 86 replaces Schedule 2(a) to the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 and its intended successor provision at section 37(1) of the Education Act 1997.

124.     These provisions for qualifications approvals anticipate the potential development of:

  • (for all age groups) group awards which recognise achievement in several qualifications or a combination of qualifications and other activity; and

  • (for those aged 19 or over) 'A unitised system of external qualifications.

125.     Clause 92 clarifies the QCA's powers to develop tests aimed at those beyond compulsory school age and extend its powers to include both the setting and administering of tests for these students. The powers will apply whether these are tests in their own right or whether they form part of qualifications offered by awarding bodies. The equivalent body in Wales, ACCAC, will have its powers similarly extended. The clause has been introduced to allow, for example, the possibility of the QCA or ACCAC developing and administering the new National Literacy and Numeracy Tests for adults (a recommendation from Improving literacy and numeracy - A fresh start, the report of the working group chaired by Sir Claus Moser, February 1999).

Clauses 93 and 94: Individual learning accounts

126.     Clauses 93 and 94 make enabling provision for what are currently and informally known as individual learning accounts and which are referred to in the Bill as 'qualifying accounts'. A small number of developmental learning accounts are already being made available by TECs using their resources and under their own operating powers. Primary legislation is required for implementation of a national framework of learning accounts as the Secretary of State currently has insufficient powers for the payment of learning account discounts.

127.     Clause 93 gives details of the conditions to be specified by the Secretary of State (in regulations) which will have to be met for an account to be a qualifying account. These conditions may relate to:

  • the name by which qualifying accounts may be known;

  • the types of individuals who may hold an account;

  • the institutions with which an account may be held;

  • the type of account and how it is held (e.g. to exclude joint accounts);

  • an individual not being allowed simultaneously to hold more than one qualifying account.

128.     Regulations as to institutions with which an account can be held may themselves set out the description of institutions or may allow the Secretary of State to specify the institutions. Regulations may also require that institutions with which an account may be held be approved by the Secretary of State.

128.     As provided in clause 118, Clause 93 extends to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland because it is concerned with financial matters which are reserved matters in the devolution settlements. It is intended that related measures to secure tax relief for account holders and employers contributing to employees' accounts will be provided for in the next Finance Bill.

129.     Clause 94 sets out the regulation-making powers of the Secretary of State to authorise grants for the training and education of individuals who hold qualifying accounts. In practice, these grants are likely to be delivered as discounts on the cost of eligible learning activities and may be paid in respect of the individual to the provider. The Secretary of State may make regulations as to the conditions to be satisfied for discounts to be paid. These conditions may relate to:

  • the operation of the account (e.g. minimum balances);

  • the types of learning activity; and

  • the individual's employment status or whether the individual is in receipt of certain types of benefits.

130.     The conditions relating to the types of learning activity which may qualify for grants may include a provision that it be of a type specified or offered by providers approved by either the Secretary of State or a body designated by him.

131.     Regulations may also set out:

  • that the amount of grant (in practice, discounts) to be available for particular types of learning activity and that the conditions attached to the grant be determined by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly;

  • that another body may pay these grants on behalf of the Secretary of State.

132.     Clause 94 also ascribes similar regulation-making powers to the National Assembly.

Clauses 95 to 97: 16 to 19 schools

133.     Clause 95 makes two amendments to the definition of secondary education in section 2 of the Education Act 1996. The first amendment extends the definition of "secondary education" so as to include full-time education provided at an LEA maintained institution where the institution is principally concerned with the provision of full-time education suitable to the requirement of persons over compulsory school age and under the age of 19. The second amendment clarifies the position where a person in full-time education is receiving his education partly at the school and partly at another institution under arrangements made by the school.

134.     As a result of the first amendment, a secondary school may be either:

  • an institution for providing the type of education currently set out in section 2(2) of the Education Act 1996, as before; or

  • an institution providing full-time education suitable for 16 to 18 year olds, without pupils of statutory school age.

135.     Consequently, LEAs may establish and maintain secondary schools that provide full-time education for 16 to 19 year olds without providing education for children of compulsory school age - as they could prior to April 1993. With the coming into force of provisions in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, these schools were incorporated or designated into the further education sector and the powers of LEAs amended to remove their power to establish and maintain such schools.

136.     Subsection (3) provides however that any existing institutions providing only full-time education for 16 to 19 year olds which would become schools when subsection (1) comes into force are not treated as schools unless they are properly established as schools under section 28 or 31 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (which involves the publication of statutory proposals and approval of proposals unless, in general, there are no objections). From the coming into force of subsections (4) and (5), which will be at a later date than the commencement of the remainder of this clause, the LEA will not have the power to continue to maintain any existing institutions for 16 to 19 year olds which are not properly established maintained schools in the categories defined by the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998.

137.      With the second amendment, this clause also provides for the definition of secondary education in the Education Act 1996 to be extended to include provision made under collaborative arrangements between schools and FE or HE institutions. The current definition may prevent the development of such collaboration by stipulating that secondary education for those over compulsory school age is necessarily made "at a" school. Clause 111 provides for FE and HE corporations to be able to provide secondary education under such collaborative arrangements and requires them to consult relevant LEAs before doing so.

138.     Section 16 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 allows the Secretary of State or National Assembly to incorporate into the FE sector LEA-maintained 16 to 19 institutions. Section 51 provides for publication of proposals for incorporation and drafts of orders incorporating institutions. Clause 96 simplifies the powers in section 16, removes obsolete material and amends section 51 so that the LSC cannot publish proposals to incorporate an institution maintained by a local education authority nor can the Secretary of State publish a draft order incorporating such an institution without the consent of LEA and the governing body. However by virtue of clause 95(5) this restriction does not apply if the institution has not been properly established as a school.

139.     Section 28 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 allows the Secretary of State or National Assembly to designate similar institutions that are voluntary-aided schools so that they become institutions in the FE sector. Clause 97 amends section 28 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 so that the Secretary of State or National Assembly may only designate voluntary-aided schools for 16 to 19 year olds with the consent of the governing body and the LEA.

140.     Clause 98 gives effect to the first part of Schedule 7. Comments on failing sixth forms are given under Schedule 7 below.

Support for 13 to 19 year olds

141.     This part of the Bill, Clauses 99 to 108 creates a framework which will allow the establishment of a comprehensive new service to support and encourage young people to continue, return to and participate effectively in education and training. The new service will bring together the providers of a range of existing, relevant services at the local level. In practice, particular attention will be given to young people disengaged or at risk of becoming disengaged from education or training.

142.     These clauses give effect to proposals set out in the Learning to Succeed White Paper (Cm 4392) and the Social Exclusion Unit's Bridging the Gap report (Cm 4405).

143.     Clause 99 will give the Secretary of State new powers to secure the provision of support for all 13 to 19 year olds for the purpose of encouraging and enabling young people to stay on and participate effectively in education or training. He may do this by directing LEAs, or by making arrangements with a range of statutory or non-statutory bodies (including local authorities). The clause gives the Secretary of State a broad power to fund any of those bodies. It is intended that the new service established under these powers will develop a network of professional personal advisers to help young people gain the greatest personal benefit from education and training. The clause is broad enough to provide for the service to address both the direct and indirect factors which affect young people's effective participation in learning. In practice, the Secretary of State will use these new powers to integrate and build on the existing range of services currently provided at the local level by careers service companies, youth service and other statutory and voluntary services for young people.

144.     Clause 100 places the Secretary of State under a duty to consult the bodies listed and any voluntary sector or other bodies as he thinks appropriate (e.g. non-maintained special schools) before he makes arrangements for the provision of services for young people in a local area. The statutory bodies consulted will be under a duty to collaborate with the Secretary of State and with service providers to support and assist the provision of services in their area. They must also co-ordinate their own activities with the provision of the new service. Such duties will not require the bodies to take action which would significantly interfere with the efficient or effective exercise of their own functions.

145.     LEAs will play a major role in the provision of this service. Clause 101 gives them the necessary powers to do so. They must comply with directions to provide or secure services and have a power to make more extensive provision or provision other than that agreed in arrangements made or directions given under clause 99 and to make provision outside of their area.

146.     Clause 102, together with clauses 104 and 105 will give effect to a specific proposal in the Learning to Succeed White Paper and the Social Exclusion Unit's Bridging the Gap Report. The Report recommended (at paragraph 10.5):

"the development of a comprehensive record system, which ensures that no young person becomes 'missing' and prompt action is taken if they cease to be involved in education or training."

In practice, records will be compiled and held in local areas, feeding into a national register which could, for example, help ensure continuity of service for young people who move to another area. Access to personal data from the national register would be strictly controlled. Clause 102 sets out the duties on maintained schools and LSC funded providers to provide relevant information. Information can only be provided if the young person (or in the case of an under16 year old, their parent) has not indicated otherwise. These institutions must also give youth service providers reasonable access to pupils and students.

147.     Clause 103 and clause 108 introduce flexible provision for the inspection of the support and guidance service for young people. The Bill will place a duty on the Secretary of State to make arrangements for the inspection of support services provided under clause 99 and careers service provision made under sections 8 and 9 of the Employment and Training Act 1973. In practice, the support service and Careers Service provision for 13 to 19s would be delivered and inspected as a single service. The Bill will also give the Secretary of State a power to request that OFSTED inspect, report and advise on service provision. The Bill will also provide for the extension of OFSTED's statutory powers to ensure that they are able to undertake such inspections. The Bill will also give OFSTED, when requested to inspect, the necessary right of access to the premises and records of providers who are providing services for young people by arrangements with, or under directions from, the Secretary of State. This right is extended to any persons assisting OFSTED in their inspection. OFSTED also have a power to report on and publish their findings.

148.     Clause 104 enables disclosure from the Child Benefit database by the Secretary of State for Social Security of lists of those in the age range - in practice, an important way of ensuring the new service for young people holds accurate and comprehensive records. Only a child's name, date of birth and address and the name (and address, if different) of their parent or guardian will be disclosed - and only to the Secretary of State or persons providing the new service. Anyone who misuses this information is liable to prosecution.

149.     Clause 105 will empower those bodies listed to supply relevant information about young people to the Secretary of State or to persons providing the new service.

150.     Clause 106 amends the Education Act 1996 in line with the changes (at paragraphs 23 to 25 of Schedule 8 to this Bill) to the duties of LEAs in respect of FE provision. LEAs will no longer be under a duty to provide FE but will be have a power to do so in connection with local LSC plans. As a consequence, the current duty on LEAs to provide services ancillary to their FE provision is amended to become a power.

 
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Prepared: 17 December 1999