Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Assessing impact of reduced bill

Arrow crashing into ground

The end of the last Parliament meant that Ed Balls' legacy bill - the Children, Schools and Families Bill, which would have introduced the pupil and parent guarantees and License to Practise - was effectively gutted when the House of Lords reduced the bill's 50 clauses to five in the last-day scramble to wrap up legislation.

Some areas of less interest to schools but of importance to parents and children have survived. The Local Safeguarding Boards provisions have remained, as have the clauses opening up the closed world of the family courts to a little scrutiny.

Additional powers and the duty of governing bodies to consider community provision survive, as do some refinements of local authority intervention. Similarly, an explicit requirement for Ofsted to report on children with SEN and disabilities in their reports on schools stayed in.

It was also a small victory that the addition of the words 'frivolous' and 'vexatious' in the clauses about the powers of the Local Government Ombudsman to dismiss complaints was also approved.

Therefore, for the moment schools do not have to worry about being taken to the Local Government Ombudsman for failing to meet one of the parent and pupil guarantees; SIPs do not have to judge schools on wellbeing; the school report card and the requirement to provide information for it are in the round grey filing cabinet; and home education will not be subject to increased supervision.

More controversially perhaps, the provisions that made PSHE compulsory have gone. The Lords concluded that the matter was not one that should be hustled through with limited debate at the end of a Parliament.

The main conflict this time was over the original requirement that sex and relationships education should be balanced. The faith communities wished to remove this clause completely. The sticking point appears to be over homosexuality, whether, in a nutshell, a faith school should be required to teach that this is a valid lifestyle choice.

The loss of this clause and the loss of the clause allowing children of a certain age to make their own minds up as to whether to take part or not, meant that the whole section was lost.

At the time of publication the general election is yet to take place. Regardless of the outcome, it seems certain that we can look forward to the introduction of another education bill in the summer Parliament.

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