Education and Adoption Bill

Consideration of amendments, House of Commons, Tuesday 23 February 2016

  • The LGA had called for failing and coasting academies to be subject to the same powers of rapid and rigorous intervention as maintained schools. We are pleased the Government has listened and amended the Education and Adoption Bill so that academy schools will be subject to intervention powers if they fall within the coasting definition.
  • We remain concerned that academy chains do not have the capacity to improve additional schools. The Government's statistics show only 15 per cent of the 20 largest chains are performing above the national average as compared to 44 per cent of councils. The Secretary of State should consider whether a high-quality sponsor is available before converting a school to an academy.
  • Since September 2012, 75 per cent of maintained schools have gained good or outstanding judgements, compared to 69 per cent of academies. Pupils attending maintained schools achieved the same high standard of GCSE results in 2014 as those attending academies.
  • The Government should remove the bureaucratic barriers that are currently stopping councils from intervening in underperforming schools and allow them to share their extensive experience and expertise. Councils must be regarded as education improvement partners and not a barrier to change.

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House of Commons, Consideration of amendments, Education and Adoption Bill, Tuesday 23 February 2016 (PDF)

Third Reading, House of Lords, Monday 8 February 2016 

  • The Education and Adoption Bill should remove the bureaucratic barriers that are currently stopping councils from intervening in underperforming schools and allow them to share their extensive experience and expertise. Councils must be regarded as education improvement partners and not a barrier to change.  
  • Since September 2012, 75 per cent of maintained schools have gained good or outstanding judgements, compared to 69 per cent of academies. Pupils attending maintained schools achieved the same high standard of GCSE results in 2014 as those attending academies.
  • The LGA had called for failing and coasting academies to be subject to the same powers of rapid and rigorous intervention as maintained schools. We are pleased the Government has listened and amended the Bill so that academy schools will be subject to intervention powers if they fall within the coasting definition.
  • We remain concerned that academy chains do not have the capacity to improve additional schools. The Government's statistics show only 15 per cent of the 20 largest chains are performing above the national average as compared to 44 per cent of councils. The Secretary of State should consider whether a high-quality sponsor is available before converting a school to an academy.
Download the full LGA briefing:

Education and Adoption Bill, Third Reading, House of Lords 8 February 2016 (PDF, 1 pages, 121KB)


Report Stage day 2, House of Lords, 16 December 2015
Key messages

  • Councils have a good track record on school improvement and a statutory duty to promote high educational standards in their areas. However, their current powers to intervene are strictly limited. Following a significant period of structural reform, the focus of school improvement policy should be on standard of education, not on the structures through which it is provided.

  • The LGA has called for failing and coasting academies to be subject to the same powers of rapid and rigorous intervention as maintained schools. We are pleased the Government has listened and we support amendment 24 led by Lord Nash, as it would mean that academy schools would be subject to intervention powers if they fall within the coasting definition established by the Bill.

  • We remain concerned that academy chains do not have the capacity to improve additional schools. The Government's statistics show only 15 per cent of the 20 largest chains are performing above the national average as compared to 44 per cent of councils. The LGA supports amendment 15D led by Lord Storey as it would require the Secretary of State to consider whether a high-quality sponsor is available before converting a school to an academy.

  • Councils should be recognised as an essential part of the infrastructure to improve standards, and should be given powers to sponsor academies. In addition, council-maintained schools should be able to sponsor failing schools without first having to become academies themselves. 

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Education and Adoption Bill, Report Stage Stage day 2 (PDF, 2 pages, 113KB)


Report Stage, House of Lords, 30 November 2015
Key messages

  • Councils have a good track record on school improvement and a statutory duty to promote high educational standards in their areas. However, their current powers to intervene are strictly limited. Following a significant period of structural reform, the focus of school improvement policy should be on standard of education, not on the structures through which it is provided. 
  • The LGA is calling for failing and coasting academies to be subject to the same powers of rapid and rigorous intervention as maintained schools. For this reason we support amendment 13 led by Lord Watson of Invergowrie and Lord Hunt of Kings Heath as it would mean that academy schools would be subject to the same intervention powers as council maintained schools if they fall within the coasting definition established by the Bill.
  • We support amendment 16 led by Lord Watson of Invergowrie and Lord Hunt of Kings Heath as it will put on a statutory footing the powers of  the Regional Schools Commissioner to intervene in an academy school if it receives an Inadequate rating, allow greater flexibility in the options available and require consultation with councils and academy sponsors before action is taken.
  • We remain concerned about the capacity of the existing Regional Schools Commissioners to take on additional schools, when some existing academies face significant performance challenges. This is because the Bill will require all maintained schools judged to be Inadequate to be converted to sponsor academies. It may lead many schools deemed to be ‘coasting' to be converted.
  • Councils should be recognised as an essential part of the infrastructure to improve standards, and should be given powers to sponsor academies. In addition, council-maintained schools should be able to sponsor failing schools without first having to become academies themselves. 
Download the full LGA briefing:

Education and Adoption Bill, Report Stage Stage (PDF, 2 pages, 89KB)


Committee Stage, House of Lords 5 November 2015
Key messages

  • Councils have a good track record on school improvement and a statutory duty to promote high educational standards in their areas. However, their current powers to intervene are strictly limited. Following a significant period of structural reform, the focus of school improvement policy should be on standards for all provision, not structures. 
  • The LGA want to see failing and coasting academies subject to the same powers of rapid and rigorous intervention as maintained schools. For this reason we support amendments 25 and 30 introducing an inspection regime for academy sponsors.
  • We are concerned that academy chains do not have the capacity to improve additional schools. The Government's statistics show only 15 per cent of the 20 largest chains are performing above the national average as compared to 44 per cent of councils. The LGA would like to see the Bill amended so that the Secretary of State must consider whether a high-quality sponsor is available before converting a school to an academy.
  • The Bill will require all maintained schools judged to be Inadequate to be converted to sponsor academies. It may lead many schools deemed to be ‘coasting' to be converted. We have concerns about the capacity of the existing Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) to take on additional schools, when some existing academies face significant performance challenges. We support amendments 19 and 24 which would put in place more consultation with local government and parents. 
  • Councils should be recognised as an essential part of the infrastructure to improve standards, and should be given powers to sponsor academies. In addition, council-maintained schools should be able to sponsor failing schools without first having to become academies themselves. The LGA supports amendment 17 which would allow the Secretary of State to convert a failing academy to a maintained school.

Download the full LGA briefing:

Education and Adoption Bill, Committee Stage (PDF, 2 pages, 90KB)


Second Reading, House of Lords, 20 October 2015

Key messages

  • Education
    • Councils have a good track record on school improvement and a statutory duty to promote high educational standards in their areas. However, their current powers to intervene are strictly limited. Following a significant period of structural reform, the focus of school improvement policy should be on standards for all provision, not structures.
    • The LGA is concerned that academy chains do not have the capacity to improve additional schools. The Government's statistics show only 15 per cent of the 20 largest chains are performing above the national average as compared to 44 per cent of councils.
    • The Bill will require all maintained schools judged to be Inadequate to be converted to sponsor academies. It may lead many schools deemed to be 'coasting' to be converted. We have concerns about the capacity of the existing Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) to take on additional schools, when some existing academies face significant performance challenges.
    • Councils should be recognised as an essential part of the infrastructure to improve standards, and should be given powers to sponsor academies. In addition, council-maintained schools should be able to sponsor failing schools without first having to become academies themselves.
  • Adoption
    • Regional adoption boards are now in place throughout England and local authorities are working together on adoption with great success. We welcome the provisions in the Bill which recognise the importance of these collaborative arrangements, and their success. It is positive that they are being placed on a statutory footing.
    • The ongoing focus on adoption should not distract from the importance of other types of long- and short-term care for vulnerable children. Local and national government must continue to strive to improve the experience of all children in care.

Download the full LGA briefing:

Education and Adoption Bill, Second Reading (PDF, 3 pages, 138KB)


Report Stage and Third Reading, House of Commons 16 September 2015

Key messages

  • Councils have a good track record on school improvement and a statutory duty to promote high educational standards in their areas. However, their current powers to intervene are strictly limited. Following a significant period of structural reform, the focus of school improvement policy should be on standards for all provision, not structures.
  • The Bill will allow large numbers of maintained schools to be converted to sponsor academies. We have concerns about the capacity of the existing Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) to take on large numbers of additional schools, when some existing academies face significant performance challenges. As such, we welcome the requirements in amendment NC2 for RSCs to consult with local authorities.
  • Councils should be recognised as an essential part of the infrastructure to drive up standards, and should be given powers to sponsor academies. In addition, council-maintained schools should be able to sponsor failing schools without first having to become academies themselves. Amendment NC2 would allow for struggling academies to be established as maintained schools. This is a step in the right direction.
  • Academy chains may not have the capacity to improve significant numbers of additional schools. The Government's statistics show only 15 per cent of the 20 largest chains are performing above the national average as compared to 44 per cent of councils. We welcome amendment NC4 which requires the Secretary of State to consult with the local authority before entering into Academy arrangements. However, we would like to see an independent assessment of the capacity of sponsors to take on new schools and their performance.

Download the full LGA briefing:

Education and Adoption Bill, Report Stage and Third Reading (PDF, 3 pages, 138KB)


Committee Stage, House of Commons

Key messages

  • Councils have a good track record on school improvement and a statutory duty to promote high educational standards in their areas. They should be given the powers they need to achieve such standards for local schools.
  • Councils should be recognised as an essential part of the infrastructure to drive up standards, and should be given powers to sponsor academies.
  • Before the Bill's provisions are enacted, we would like to see an independent assessment by the Government of the capacity of sponsors to take on new schools and their performance.
  • We have concerns about the capacity of the existing Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) to take on large numbers of additional schools, when some existing academies face significant performance challenges.

Download the full LGA briefing:

Education and Adoption Bill, Committee Stage (PDF, 3 pages, 150KB)


Second Reading, House of Commons

Key messages

Education

  • Failing and coasting academies should be subject to the same powers of rapid and rigorous intervention as maintained schools. We are seeking an assurance from the Government that this will be the case and for this to be included in the Bill.
  • Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) will not have the capacity or local knowledge to deal with underperformance in maintained schools. They will therefore need to work closely with councils, which know what works best for their local areas.
  • The capacity of current and potential academy sponsors to take on large numbers of additional schools is questionable. When an academy fails or a chain is found to be underperforming, high performing councils should be able to step in as sponsors to turn schools around.
  • The Government should set out at the earliest possible opportunity the amount of funding that will be made available to councils which are required to facilitate conversions to academies following an academy order.

Adoption

  • Regional adoption boards are now in place throughout England and local authorities are working together on adoption with great success. We welcome the provisions in the Bill which recognise the importance of these collaborative arrangements, and their success. It is positive that they are being placed on a statutory footing.
  • We are seeking clarity on the circumstances in which these new powers would be used. Councils which have not already introduced regional arrangements should be allowed time and freedom to do so, before new structures are enforced by Government.
  • Repealing section 3A of the Adoption Act 2002 acknowledges the significance of local authorities' role in adoption. The LGA strongly resisted the inclusion of this clause in the Children and Families Bill and welcomes its imminent repeal.
  • The Government's promise of financial support for the transition to joint arrangements is also welcome. We urge the Government to set out the amount of funding that will be made available and over what period of time at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • We would like to ensure that the ongoing focus on adoption does not distract from the importance of other types of long- and short-term care for vulnerable children. Local and national governent  must continue to strive to improve the experience of all children in care.

Download the full LGA briefing:

Education and Adoption Bill, Second Reading (PDF, 4 pages, 146KB)

6 January 2017