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Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I thank the Minister for her reply and for putting on the record her assurances in relation to the first amendment in the group.

As regards the second amendment, I am somewhat less happy. As the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, has already said, retrospective legislation is not satisfactory. We shall not press the amendment today, but we may wish to return to this matter on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 210F, 210G, 210H, 210J, 210K and 210L:



("5A.--(1) This paragraph applies to a report of an inspection under Part I of the School Inspections Act 1996 which--
(a) states an opinion that a school has an inadequate sixth-form, and
(b) is made by a member of the Inspectorate or states that the Chief Inspector agrees with the opinion mentioned in paragraph (a).
(2) The person making a report to which this paragraph applies shall send a copy (together with a copy of the summary, if there is one)--
(a) to the Secretary of State or, in the case of a school in Wales, the National Assembly for Wales, and
(b) if the person making the report is a member of the Inspectorate, to the appropriate authority for the school.

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(3) The following provisions of the School Inspections Act 1996 shall apply (with the necessary modifications) in relation to a report to which this paragraph applies--
(a) section 16(3) (additional copies);
(b) section 16(4) (publication by appropriate authority);
(c) section 17 (action plan by appropriate authority);
(d) where the local education authority receives a copy of a report about a school the governing body of which have a delegated budget, section 18(2) and (3) (measures by local education authority).
(4) In the application of those provisions--
(a) a reference to a report and summary shall be taken as a reference to a report and, if there is one, its summary, and
(b) a reference to a summary alone shall be taken, in a case where there is no summary, as a reference to the report.
5B. Section 13(2) to (7) of the School Inspections Act 1996 (inspections by registered inspectors) shall apply, with the necessary modifications, where the inspector is of the opinion that a school has an inadequate sixth-form as it applies where he is of the opinion that special measures are required to be taken in relation to a school.").


    Page 70, line 39, leave out ("10") and insert (10B").


    Page 71, line 12, leave out ("in the same way as") and insert ("for all purposes of this Schedule and the School Inspections Act 1996 as if it were").


    Page 71, line 13, leave out ("the School Inspections Act 1996") and insert ("that Act").


    Page 71, line 20, leave out ("or a report under paragraph 8 of this Schedule").


    Page 71, line 40, at end insert--


("10A.--(1) This paragraph applies to a report of an inspection under Part I the School Inspections Act 1996 which--
(a) states an opinion that a school has significant weaknesses in one or more areas of its activities, and
(b) is made by a member of the Inspectorate or states that the Chief Inspector agrees with the opinion mentioned in paragraph (a).
(2) The person making a report to which this paragraph applies shall send a copy (together with a copy of the summary, if there is one)--
(a) to the Secretary of State or, in the case of a school in Wales, the National Assembly for Wales, and
(b) if the person making the report is a member of the Inspectorate, to the appropriate authority for the school.
(3) The following provisions of the School Inspections Act 1996 shall apply (with the necessary modifications) in relation to a report to which this paragraph applies--
(a) section 16(3) (additional copies);
(b) section 16(4) (publication by appropriate authority);
(c) section 17 (action plan by appropriate authority);
(d) where the local education authority receives a copy of a report about a school the governing body of which have a delegated budget, section 18(2) and (3) (measures by local education authority).
(4) In the application of those provisions--
(a) a reference to a report and summary shall be taken as a reference to a report and, if there is one, its summary, and
(b) a reference to a summary alone shall be taken, in a case where there is no summary, as a reference to the report.
10B. Section 13(2) to (7) of the School Inspections Act 1996 (inspections by registered inspectors) shall apply, with the necessary modifications, where the inspector is of the opinion that

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a school has significant weaknesses in one or more areas of its activities as it applies where he is of the opinion that special measures are required to be taken in relation to a school.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 210M not moved.]

Baroness Sharp of Guilford moved Amendment No. 210N:


    Page 72, line 16, leave out ("such") and insert ("the governing body and head teacher of the school concerned and such other").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 210N, I should like to speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 210P to 210V. Amendment No. 210N is the first of a further set of amendments relating to the details of Schedule 7, in particular to Part II of the schedule relating to proposals for the closure of sixth forms. Amendments Nos. 210N and 210P relate to England and require that the learning and skills council consults with the governing body and headteacher on any proposals to close a sixth form, including passing over a copy of the proposals. Amendments Nos. 210Q and 210R require the same procedures to be followed in relation to Wales.

Amendments Nos. 210S to 210V refer to sixth-form centres in England and Wales respectively. It is inconceivable that any sixth form would be closed down without wide consultation, especially with the headteacher and governors of the school. These amendments are essentially probing amendments to try to ensure that the provision is written on to the face of the Bill. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: I want to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, on picking up all the points where this raft of amendments has referred to keeping informed the governing body and the head teacher of individual schools. The Government have seen fit to name, yet again, the organisation committee and the LEA which maintain the school. However, the subject of such a proposal would be the individual institution; that is, the school and/or the sixth-form centre. Not only do I agree with the noble Baroness that it is inconceivable that they would not be informed, but I believe that it is important that they should be informed. Therefore, I believe that this provision should go on the face of the Bill and I support it.

Lord Bach: As the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, said in so briefly and accurately moving her amendments, their aim is to ensure that the governing bodies and head teachers of schools are kept fully informed about proposals made by the English and Welsh councils to close the sixth forms at their schools or, if they are 16 to 19 institutions, to discontinue them. Perhaps I may take the amendments together.

Amendments Nos. 210N, 210Q, 210S and 210U relate to the consultations which the LSC and the CETW are required to undertake before they publish proposals. The two councils are required to consult such persons as they consider appropriate, having regard to any guidance from the Secretary of State in England and the National Assembly for Wales. Exactly the same provisions appear in the School

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Standards and Framework Act 1998 in relation to proposals for school organisation to be published by LEAs or governing bodies.

In England, the Secretary of State has set out in the department's Circular 9/99 his views on which interested parties should be consulted by proposers. The National Assembly for Wales has done likewise in its Circular 9/99. The noble Baroness will not be surprised to hear that the parties listed in those circulars include the school in question, any LEA and other schools, parents and teachers in the area who may be affected by the proposals. We intend that the Secretary of State and the National Assembly will also give guidance on consultations to the LSC and CETW in respect of post-16 proposals and, importantly, that the same interested parties will be specified.

The Government understand the concern of the noble Baroness that the school in question should be consulted. Of course, it is right that it should be. Indeed, if I may use her expression, it is inconceivable that the two councils would not judge it appropriate to consult the school which is the subject of their proposals. In the forthcoming guidance on the councils' proposals published under the Bill, we intend to recognise that, as we have done in the guidance on proposals published under the 1998 Act. Unless and until proper consultations had been conducted, we would not expect the decision-making bodies--the school organisation committee or schools adjudicator in England and, respectively, the National Assembly for Wales--to consider their proposals.

I clarify by adding that we would expect the head teacher to be subsumed within the word "school". Communications with schools under Schedule 7 would be with governing bodies. Head teachers have the right to be members of such bodies if they wish. In the great majority of maintained schools--some 90 per cent--head teachers are also governors.

I deal now with the four remaining amendments. Amendments Nos. 210P, 210R, 210T and 210V would require the LSC and CETW to send copies of the published proposals and information to be prescribed in regulations to the governing body and head teacher of the school concerned, as well as to the school organisation committee and the National Assembly for Wales. This will be factual information which the decision-making bodies will need for their decision-making role. We envisage that the content of the regulations to be made under Schedule 7 will be very similar to the content of regulations governing information that go to the school organisation committee and National Assembly on proposals to close sixth forms published under the 1998 Act. No doubt it will include details of present and forecast pupil numbers, examination performance and details of other 16 to 19 institutions in the area. Much of that information will be in the public domain and, indeed, some may have been directly provided to the councils concerned by the schools themselves.

Perhaps I may make it clear that none of the information is intended to be secret. It will be open to schools which are the subject of proposals to request a

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copy of the information. Those bodies--that is, the school organisation committee or, in Wales, the National Assembly--would be expected to release the information on request. We believe that that is a far better way to proceed than to place a requirement on the face of the Bill for the two councils to provide information automatically to schools.

We understand the concern of the noble Baroness to protect the interests of the schools concerned. However, we believe that there are other ways to achieve this end and that it is unnecessary to provide for those concerns through amendments to the Bill. In those circumstances and as this is a probing amendment, as the noble Baroness said, I respectfully expect her to withdraw the amendment.

4.45 p.m.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I thank the Minister for his full reply to these amendments. I am much heartened by the degree to which he has given assurances that the detailed guidance from the department, which will be incorporated in a circular similar to Circular 9/99, which relates to the School Standards and Framework Bill, will apply in a similar way in this case. These concerns have been raised by the National Association of Head Teachers. Clearly, it is concerned that there have been occasions when it has not been consulted as fully as it would have wished. We have tabled the amendments on behalf of that association. As I said, I thank the Minister for his reply, and I am glad to have it so fully on the record. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 210P to 210V not moved.]


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