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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 17:27 GMT
What the education bill says
school room
The bill covers performance and behaviour as well as admissions
Probably the most striking feature of the education bill, given all the fuss about the proposed "trust schools", is that it does not use the phrase.

This is because legally, a trust school is just a foundation school with a foundation - an existing category.

What the bill does is to enable every school to become a foundation school, acquire a foundation and allow that foundation to appoint a majority of governors.

BILL IN FULL

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If it does so, it must set up a parents' council to reflect their views.

Where there is dissatisfaction at the performance of the trust, a minority of governors will be able to trigger a review.

If the governing body decides, by a two-thirds majority, to retain the trust, there can be no new minority resolution for seven years.

One of the important concessions ministers made to backbenchers was to allow local authorities to continue to set up new community schools, subject to a local competition.

The bill gives the education secretary a veto but says that where a local authority with a good track record proposes a community school that has parents' support, she or he "will not normally intervene".

Local authorities are obliged to consider representations from parents about school provision in their area.

Their duties will include "promoting high standards" in education and ensuring the fulfilment of every child's educational potential.

And they have a new duty to try to identify children not getting a suitable education either in school or at home.

Admissions

As promised on the thorny issue of admissions, the bill reaffirms the existing ban on new selection by ability and proposes to ban interviewing too.

It strengthens the legal status of the admissions code so schools have to "act in accordance" with it, rather than simply "have regard to" it.

And it widens the role of local admissions forums so they can refer objections to the Schools Adjudicator and can produce an annual report on fair access in their area.

Transport and meals

Councils are given a duty to support parents to express a preference for a particular school.

And changes to school transport are made to help the poorest families.

Local authorities will have to give free transport for their children to attend any of three suitable secondary schools within two and six miles of their home - rather than just the nearest, as now.

There are also clauses about school meals.

One covers the pledge to apply nutritional standards. Another changes councils' "duty to charge" into a "power to charge" - so if they want they can provide free meals to anyone.

Weak schools

The rules on failing schools are tightened up, as promised, with local authorities being required to intervene more quickly and decisively.

A new power enables them to require a weak school to collaborate with another school or to work with a partner on school improvement.

There is a section dealing with the new specialised diplomas being introduced from 2008 - giving all youngsters an entitlement to them.

The government recognises that not all schools will have the facilities to offer the full range of these vocational options.

So the bill gives schools and colleges the power formally to collaborate, and local authorities the job of ensuring they do so.

Discipline

Improving discipline is an important feature of the government's plans.

The bill gives all staff in schools the power to discipline pupils for misbehaviour even when they are not in school.

Detention powers are extended so detention can be imposed on weekends and staff training days.

Parenting contracts and orders are extended so they can be used more widely and at an earlier stage.

Parents are made responsible for excluded children and can be prosecuted if they are caught in public during school hours.

But parents themselves get a new right to complain about a school to Ofsted.




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