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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, is right that I said in Committee that we would be using the powers in Clause 60 only in exceptional circumstances; as the noble Baroness said, as a last resort. We would use the power when other efforts to tackle failure had not worked. In Committee, I gave the figures of how successful policies to tackle failure had been. I think the figure was that around 900 schools have been brought out of failure. That is carried out in partnership with local education authorities.

Amendment No. 102 would impose a duty on the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales to consult an LEA before a determination is made to direct it to enter into a contract or some other arrangement to obtain advisory services to help it turn around failing schools. We accept the concern, as I made quite clear in Committee, but we do not consider that the amendment is necessary.

At the risk of repeating what I said in Committee, there are two situations in which we might use the power under Clause 60. First, where it is clear that the LEA may need to involve an external partner to remedy failure where the authority is not considering that action. The second—later down the line—is where an existing recovery plan is not working.

In both cases—this is the fundamental point—the powers will have involved discussion with the LEA. We do not think that there is any benefit in delaying

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the process further by formal consultation, which is what the amendment involves. In those circumstances, the impetus will be for a rapid turnaround in the school's fortunes, which will involve deliberation with the LEA. If we had to have a full consultation process, we could delay matters. In any case, it would be unnecessary since we will have been considering the best way to tackle the problem with the LEA during the whole process. The key is the difference between the discussions which will have to take place with the LEA under our proposals and a formal consultation.

I turn to Amendment No. 103. We propose to provide guidance on the way an LEA might use external partners to provide advice on turning around failing schools as part of new guidance on tackling schools causing concern. That guidance will establish a framework within which LEAs and schools might work. It will describe the respective roles of the LEA, the school and the external partner and might also include model contracts. But when the LEA enters into an agreement, it needs to have the flexibility to include terms and conditions appropriate to its individual needs. The experience of LEA interventions demonstrates that a solution tailored to the specific circumstances is necessary.

So we do not believe that it would be helpful for the Secretary of State to issue detailed guidance about the terms and conditions she might include in a direction. That would be a centralising move, which is not particularly desirable. Terms and conditions could vary from case to case, depending on the matters which cause the problem in the first place. Therefore, statutory guidance would limit the flexibility available to both the Secretary of State and the LEAs in preparing an appropriate contract or an agreement.

LEAs and governing bodies already obtain advisory services without the need for a direction. Our guidance will help those LEAs and governing bodies to obtain a solution which is suitable for their individual requirements. I hope that on that basis the amendment will not be pressed.

3.45 p.m.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. We felt, in response to the previous discussion of the amendment, that there was a case for including at least the first amendment on the face of the Bill.

I take on board what the Minister has said. We shall think further on these matters. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 103 not moved.]

Clause 62 [Academies]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 104:

    Page 42, line 36, leave out "broad curriculum" and insert "curriculum satisfying the requirements of section 74 of the Education Act 2002, but"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in Committee, I welcomed Amendment No. 234 tabled by the noble Baronesses, Lady Sharp and Lady Walmsley, and I

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promised to bring forward a government amendment. We want academies to deliver broad and balanced curricula to their pupils. The amendment extends the legislative requirement on academies so that it more closely reflects the requirements placed on maintained schools in terms of the breadth and balance of the curriculum, the emphasis on meeting the moral, spiritual, cultural, mental and physical needs of young people and preparing them for later life. I beg to move.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister for bringing forward the amendment which, as he says, repeats entirely the amendment that we tabled in Committee. It will give slightly greater coherence to the Act in that the concept of a broad and balanced curriculum relates to Section 74. I thank the Minister.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I first declare an interest. Today, I accepted a governorship at one of the new academies that are being formed. I ask the Minister: what was the deficit before the amendment was brought forward? I understand the arguments for the amendment and I understand the points put by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp. But has there been evidence of a lack of a broad and balanced curriculum being taught in the academies, in the city technology colleges and in the other schools of that ilk that come under the legislation? What material difference will the amendment make in terms of what is expected of academies? My feeling is that the amendment is otiose.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I first congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, on her new appointment. I hope that she enjoys her governorship. The amendment is not put forward in the sense of criticism of existing academies, which is what I think she believes, but it is important that we should so far as possible make academies reflect the requirements placed on maintained schools. Those requirements are that they should reflect, in terms of the breadth and balance of the curriculum, the emphasis on meeting the moral, spiritual, cultural, mental and physical needs of young people and of preparing them for later life. In view of our continual emphasis on the fact that academies have to conform to the rules for maintained schools, it is desirable to make that clear in the Bill.

Lord Quirk: My Lords—

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am sorry, but we are on Report.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Walmsley moved Amendment No. 105:

    Before Clause 66, insert the following new clause—

( ) A proposal to establish, alter or discontinue a school can be made by an admission authority or potential admission authority, the Secretary of State in the case of a City Academy, or the local education authority where the authority is not the admission authority.

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( ) All proposals shall be considered and determined by the School Organisation Committee which covers the area in which the proposed school is to be situated."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, when we tabled an identical amendment in Committee we said that we were concerned that the Bill offends against local democracy by taking power from the LEAs and giving it to the Secretary of State. Logically, perhaps we should also have tabled an amendment to remove the whole of Clause 67 because it is peppered with powers for the Secretary of State to direct the LEA on this, that and the other in relation to what it should do and whom it should consult when proposing to establish, alter or discontinue schools. However, we did not do so.

In her reply, the Minister offered to table an amendment. That appears today as Amendment No. 106, which seeks to remove the words,

    "with the approval of the Secretary of State",

from line 44. That is welcome and I thank her for it.

The Minister may be surprised that I have tabled this amendment once again. The reason for the amendment is that, given the power vested in the Secretary of State in Clause 67, the words,

    "with the approval of the Secretary of State",

in Clause 66 are superfluous. Their removal, although welcome, achieves nothing. I therefore wish to debate the amendment again to probe a little further the Government's intentions for the role of LEAs in establishing new schools, and to highlight our view that the power to decide should be in the hands of local people—in this case personified by the school organisation committee. I should be grateful if the Minister would clarify their intentions in the light of the major role to be played by the Secretary of State, as described in Clause 67. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I should like the Minister to go a good deal further than that, although I doubt that she will. It is high time to shoot the old canard that there should be controls on who can start new schools. Schools that open and do not attract pupils cannot exist for long. Why should we want to stop people from founding new state schools? If someone wants to found a state school and to try to live off the amount of money that we are prepared to provide per pupil, good luck to them. Why should not they do that? Why should they have to go through endless committees to do that? Those committees will be stuffed with the kind of people who will think that they may suffer from new schools, such as those representing existing schools.

If existing schools are not providing a good education, or if people want to provide education of a particular religious character or of a type that is not currently available—and enough parents want that to make a new school viable—why should they not have one? Why should it be the business of the state, the

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local education authority or the schools organisation committee to tell them that they should not provide what they have sufficient parents saying they want?

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