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Baroness Blackstone: I said that the judgment that a sixth form is inadequate will in every case be made by Ofsted's independent inspectors; and that the judgment will be about quality of provision and not its cost. I am sure that, when looking at quality of provision, the chief inspector will have to take into account whether money is being misspent, whether there is a total failure to make provision in a sensible way and using resources properly. In that sense, of course value for money is part of it. But I want to reiterate that small sixth forms, especially in rural areas, which of course will have somewhat higher costs than larger sixth forms' unit costs, will not be punished because they have higher costs.
Baroness Blatch: I am grateful for that answer. I am not talking only about small sixth forms in rural areas. The sixth forms may have small subject areas either because of the number of takers for a subject or because a minority subject is provided by a school. It is the subjectivity of the people making the judgments on cost. Unit costs could be high as a result of teaching a minority subject or small numbers of people taking a subject.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
The noble Lord said: A number of other amendments are grouped with this amendment. On behalf of my noble friend Lady Blackstone, I shall deal with them in two sets. The first, which amends part I of Schedule 7 and Schedule 8, relates to inspection and reporting arrangements. The second set, consisting of Amendments Nos. 211 and 212, amends Part III of Schedule 7. It relates to the decision-making process on statutory proposals to close an inadequate sixth form or to discontinue an inadequate 16 to 19 institution.
The significant amendments in the inspection and reporting set are Nos. 210F and 210L which will put in place the necessary legal underpinning for the actions to be taken following an adverse inspection report about a school sixth form or LEA-maintained 16 to 19 institution.
These actions come into two categories. First, there are provisions for inspection reports to be made and copies to be sent to those who have an interest, including parents of pupils at the school or institution concerned, and made available to the wider community. Amendment No. 210F provides for the same requirements to apply where there is a report that a school has an adequate sixth form as are already in place for school inspection reports. Amendment No. 210L similarly provides for the same requirements to apply where a report on an LEA-maintained institution states that it has serious weaknesses as are already in place for reports which state that a school requires special measures. These include procedures, where an adverse judgment is made in a contracted-out inspection, for the chief inspector to decide whether an adverse report is indeed appropriate.
Secondly, there are the procedures which governing bodies and LEAs will be required to follow in the light of the adverse report, which will form the basis of their efforts to restore the sixth form or 16 to 19 institution to health. The governing body will draw up and publish an action plan and the LEA will prepare a parallel statement of the action which it will take to support the school.
Amendment No. 249B provides that a report on an LEA-maintained 16 to 19 institution as part of an area inspection can trigger the powers of LEAs to intervene in schools causing concern, and so provides
All of these provisions will ensure that procedures for dealing with inadequate 16 to 19 provision in schools and LEA-maintained institutions will follow very closely those which have resulted in a higher success rate in turning round schools in special measures or with serious weaknesses. These procedures are explained in the department's circular No. 6/99. We intend to issue similar guidance about inadequate 16 to 19 provision, which will also cover matters for which no statutory provisions are required; for instance, the monitoring of schools' progress by Ofsted's inspectors.
Of the other amendments in the group, I would mention only Amendment No. 249A, which provides for the LSC/CETW to receive copies of all inspection reports for schools with sixth forms and LEA-maintained 16 to 19 institutions, not only adverse reports. The remaining amendments are technical or consequential.
I turn briefly to the second group of government amendments, Nos. 211 and 212. They correct a technical omission in Schedule 7 in relation to the decision-making process on proposals by the LSC to close a sixth form or discontinue a 16 to 19 institution maintained by a local education authority. The amendments thereby bring Schedule 7 into line with the equivalent provisions in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. That Act provides for proposals for change in school organisation made by LEAs and school governing bodies in England to be considered by local school organisation committees, with referral to the schools adjudicator in certain circumstances.
There are four sets of circumstances in which the school organisation committee must make referrals to the adjudicator under the 1998 Act: first, where the committee has voted on school organisation proposals, but has been unable to reach a decision; secondly, where the committee has not voted on the proposals by the end of the period set out in regulations and the person who published the proposals requests referral.
The third and fourth sets of circumstances apply to the committee's consideration of changes to proposals already approved; for example, to modify the date of implementation or to remove the duty to implement the proposals. These cases are similarly referred to the adjudicator where the committee has not been able to reach a decision or where it has taken no action within a specified time.
The amendments secure that all these circumstances are fully applied to the consideration of proposals made by the LSC under the Bill. Regulations will be made to match those applying to the consideration of LEA and governing body proposals under the 1998 Act. We shall, for example, provide by regulations made under Schedule 4 to the 1998 Act that, in voting