Children, Schools and Families Bill/Explanatory notes for Amendments

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Purpose of this page

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The intention for this page is to provide notes to explain the reason behind particular amendments. Some will be trivial notes if an amendment is self-explanatory, in other cases a note may cover a set of related amendments.

Section 19A

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The amendments make it clear that any proposed register is the responsibility of the local authority and not the parents. This is in line with the Select Committee report that considers that registration should be voluntary and tied in with the provision of services by the local authority to those who want them.

Section 19B

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The Bill as written at no point considers whether it is in the child's best interests to be home educated, and is very much biased towards forcing children to attend school at the slightest deviation to the very restrictive rules it imposes. The amendments to this section redress that somewhat, removing the local authority's right to act as judge, jury and executioner and requiring the decision of a court to determine whether to refuse registration. This turns the process into the light-touch registration championed by Diana Johnson, the Schools Minister, where simple notification of the intent to educate at home is all that occurs.

Section 19C

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Section 19C is amended in line with the 19(B) amendments to define the method of notification and the information contained within that notification. Section 19C needs further work

Section 19D

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Amendments to this section remove the costs associated with annual registration. Children at school do not need to be formally registered with the school each year, it is only when changes occur. This applies the same reasoning to elective home education, such that once registered, updates are only required if the child ceases to be educated at home, either by attendance at school, reaching an age where compulsory education is no longer required, or a court requires it.

Section 19E

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Amendments here remove the requirement on the local authority to validate the registration information, given that previous amendments have removed the requirement to provide much of the information. The requirement to check the child's wishes is removed to provide equality with schoolchildren, who don't get asked either.

In view of the Select Committee report, this may need more amendments

Section 19F

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This section deals with the revocation process and has been amended to require the oversight of a court. Other amendments remove clauses that are not needed given the amendments to previous sections.

Section 19F(1)(g) needs to be kept but in a more appropriate place

Section 19G

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This section deals with the appeals process and is adjusted to account for previous amendments requiring court intervention. It also requires the local authority to foot the bill, to encourage them to be more careful about how and when they bring proceedings.

Section 19H

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Here we deal with the provision to release personal information about a child's educational progress from a school to the local authority by requiring parental consent before it can be done A couple of other tweaks to tidy up the wording to conform to other amendments.

Section 19I

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No changes here, although perhaps there should be. This deals with the issuing of statutory guidance and currently requires local authorities to take notice.

Section 19J

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This is an attempt to provide a quick and easy way to ditch the whole thing should it get through. It gives the Secretary of State the power to scrap the whole scheme without needing new legislation.

Might need rewording to make it clear that the whole of Schedule 1 gets scrapped

Section 437

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The Bill as worded here is extremely punitive. Breathe on the paperwork in the wrong manner and your child may be forced back to school. The amendments carefully remove a restricting clause and imposes a specific obligation on the court to consider the child's well-being and educational history. "Educational history" is deliberate - it allows the court to consider previous (bad) school experience in making a decision because while education at home may not be good, it may still be better than what was provided at school.

Section 442

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A subtle amendment, similar to the one in s437. Education under s19 is tightly-defined, so by removing it, we get back to the present situation of home education. Compare (A1)-(D1) with the existing subsection 2.

Section 443

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As with s442, removal of three words makes all the difference.

Section 176, Education Act 2002

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This item from the select committee report Review of Elective Home Education (par 69) reads:

"Section 176(1) of the Education Act 2002. This requires local authorities to have regard to Government guidance about "consultation with pupils in connection with the taking of decisions affecting them". Despite the reference to `pupils', local authority functions in this respect are defined in the Act as including the provision of education otherwise than at school."

According to Hansard (discussion on clause 176 of the Education Act 2002 begins at number 1461):

Baroness Ashton of Upholland "Amendment No. 124 ensures that we can pursue this approach. Amendment No. 138 is purely technical and ensures that certain definitions from the Education Act 1996 are read across to this amendment."

The Education Act 1996 (section 3) states that a ‘pupil’ is a person whose education is being provided at school. Section 19, “Exceptional provision of education in pupil referral units or elsewhere”, uses the term “education . . . otherwise than at school”, but it’s clear that ‘otherwise’ refers to children who aren’t able to attend school -- they are ill, excluded, etc. In this case ‘education otherwise’, is referring to pupils for whom the local authority is the education provider, rather than to children being home educated.

This amendment is therefore a clarification of Section 176(1) to ensure that the local authority only has a function to consult with pupils if they are the education providers for those pupils.