Education Act 2005 highlights
The Education Act 2005 passed into law on the last day of Parliament before the general election campaign. Most clauses and schedules went through without debate as uncontroversial or as a restatement of previous legislation. Here are the highlights.
Part one of the act covers the new inspection regime. The main matters are:
HMCI for England is made responsible to the secretary of state and, only through her, to Parliament.
Governors no longer have to call a pre-inspection parents' meeting and produce an action plan.
Sixth form and early years inspections are aligned with school inspections.
Attendance and pupil welfare (a widely interpreted term) will also come under inspection.
Greater consultation with governors is required before a report that may put a school into special measures is issued.
A new category 'requiring significant improvement' replaces 'serious weakness' and all other categories including 'inadequate sixth form', but not 'special measures' which remains. The definition of 'requiring significant improvement' is "performing significantly less well than they in all circumstances reasonably might be expected to perform". Perfectly clear.
The key new proposal in this section is that an LEA must invite applications to establish new secondary schools, rather than simply coming forward with its own proposals. This is to allow other groups, including faith groups, to submit proposals.
In addition, LEAs must undertake greater consultation if they propose to shut a rural school or special school.
Training the workforce
The TTA is renamed the Training and Development Agency for Schools and its brief is extended to cover the wider school workforce.
The funding provision clears the way for the possibility of three year budgets. It states that the dedicated schools grant is to be spent only on schools, unless the schools forum decides otherwise.
The higher education provision allows schools to provide higher education courses, subject to certain restrictions. This brings them into line with FE colleges, which already have this power.
In regard to disposal of land by foundation schools, where that land was provided by public funds, permission of the secretary of state is now required. She may require that the land be passed to the LEA; or for the LEA to receive part of the proceeds; or, if the school is being discontinued, that the profit or land pass to a successor school.
Finally, the act says that information about individuals may be shared between government departments so that access to maintenance allowances and free school meals can be organised centrally online.
It also provides for information on individuals to be shared by schools where the secretary of state believes that this will assist research.
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