Government and Opposition education bosses thrashed out a series of last-minute amendments to enable parts of the Children, Schools and Families Bill to be passed into law before parliament was dissolved prior to the General Election.
While Children’s Secretary Ed Balls was forced to shelve many key sections of the Bill because the Government could not secure Conservative support for them, SEN provision has survived. Under the new legislation, school inspectors will have to report specifically on how schools provide for children with SEN and disabilities. Parents also have a new right of appeal if their child’s statement of special needs is not amended at annual review. Both provisions were formal recommendations of the recent Lamb Inquiry into Special Educational Needs and Parental Confidence commissioned by Mr Balls and chaired by Brain Lamb.
Parts of the Bill relating to alternative provision have also been saved. Local authorities are now required to provide full-time education for children and young people currently not in school, but in alternative provision, because of medical, social or emotion reasons or because they are awaiting a place in a maintained school. Save
Elsewhere, in the surviving sections of the Bill, school governing bodies will have greater powers over the use of budgets as well as powers to establish new schools and academies. New provisions have also been introduced for children’s boards to ensure effective information sharing and to strengthen the evaluation of Serious Case Reviews to improve safeguarding arrangements.
Among the many proposals that didn’t make the cut are compulsory sex education, Pupil and Parent Guarantees, designed to guarantee core rights and entitlements, and plans to improve home school agreements by personalising them for each pupil and strengthening powers to enforce parental responsibilities. Plans for the registration and monitoring of home education have also been dropped alongside proposed reforms to the primary curriculum suggested by Sir Jim Rose’s recent review.