Choice and Diversity (1992)

This White Paper was produced by John Major's Conservative government three months after John Patten became education secretary.

It formed the basis of the 1993 Education Act, which changed the funding of grant-maintained schools, laid down rules for pupil exclusions and for 'failing' schools, defined special educational needs, and replaced the National Curriculum Council (NCC) and the School Examinations and Assessment Council (SEAC) with the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA).

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

1 Schools into a new century (page 1)
2 Raising standards (15)
3 A funding agency for schools (19)
4 The supply of school places (24)
5 Pupil admission and attendance (28)
6 The role of LEAs and voluntary schools (31)
7 Easing the transition to GM status (33)
8 Spiritual and moral development (37)
9 Pupils with special needs (40)
10 Specialisation and diversity in schools (43)
11 Tackling failing schools (48)
12 Opportunities for small schools (52)
13 Finance (55)
14 Arrangements in Wales (58)
15 A new century of excellence (64)

The paragraph numbering is as in the original. Blank pages have been omitted.

The text of Choice and Diversity was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 9 February 2013.

White Paper: Choice and Diversity (1992)

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1992
© Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

[title page]


A new framework for schools

Presented to Parliament by the Secretaries of State for
Education and Wales by Command of Her Majesty

July 1992

Cm 2021London: HMSO£8.60 net

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The Government are determined that every child in this country should have the very best start in life. The drive for higher standards in schools has been a hallmark of the Government over the last decade. Now this White Paper carries this great programme of reform further forward.

Our reforms rest on common-sense principles - more parental choice; rigorous testing and external inspection of standards in schools; transfer of responsibility to individual schools and their governors; and, above all, an insistence that every pupil everywhere has the same opportunities through a good common grounding in key subjects. Few people would now argue with these principles. They are all helping to shape a more open, a more responsive and a more demanding system of education.

The White Paper, too, builds on these foundations:

  • It enhances parental choice by simplifying the creation of grant-maintained schools and by opening the way to greater variety in education through the formation of new schools and by encouraging specialisation.
  • It establishes a new body dealing with the content of the curriculum and the examination of standards; this will lead to greater rigour, simplicity and clarity of approach.
  • It sets the long-term funding of grant-maintained schools on a secure basis, and enables small village schools, too, to benefit from GM status.
  • It will allow new Education Associations to step in to revive declining schools where local authorities or their governors have failed them.
I am not prepared to see children in some parts of this country having to settle for a second-class education. Education can make or mar each child's prospects. Each has but one chance in life.

That is why the great themes of quality, diversity, parental choice, school autonomy and accountability run through the White Paper. They are the way to secure what I believe to be essential - to ask the best for every child: to ask the best from every child. Excellence must be the key word in all our schools; that is what our children deserve. That is what we intend to achieve.

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The Vitality of Education

'There should be training schools for youth established, at Government cost, and under Government discipline, over the whole country; that every child born in the country should, at the parent's wish, be permitted (and, in certain cases, under penalty required) to pass through them ...'

Unto This Last, Preface to 1862 edition
by John Ruskin

1.1 130 years after Ruskin wrote, the message is the same, the duty on government and parents is identical. For without good schools there can be little development - personal, moral or economic - for our children. What schools offer to the individual they offer to the community equally.

1.2 Education is a continuous process. It starts in the home, and may continue in play groups or nursery before school begins. It does not cease when formal education in school ends, but those schooldays constitute education's foundation. The purpose of the school has always been to ensure that children acquire a basic knowledge and a capacity to learn, and that they enter the outside world as happy and rounded, as balanced and qualified as possible: that central aim will always be there, cascading down through the generations.

1.3 The more successful the school, the more vibrant and the more successful is the community of which it forms an integral part and on which it depends. And the more successful the school, the more the quest for knowledge is likely to be pursued beyond its doors, after the last examination. Thai success is critical to our future, for education provides our future work-force and the foundation for the economic development and competitiveness of this country. Without a work-force that is well-educated we cannot succeed.

1.4 The post-war years have witnessed major changes in our country's education system. Children now begin their education earlier. They stay on in school for longer than ever before and do so in increasing numbers. Changes in education have been matched by changes in the nature of the educational opportunities available. Uniformity has increasingly given way to diversity.

1.5 Greater diversity has offered parents and children greater choice. Parents remain free to choose between state and private education. Within the state sector, there is the choice between county schools and voluntary schools provided by the churches and other voluntary bodies with their distinctive ethos and traditions. At secondary school level, comprehensive schools now serve many communities, offering a variety of styles of teaching and organisation. Most use streaming or setting; some have developed notable specialities in particular subjects such as music or technology. In a number of areas, alongside these schools there may be grammar schools, bilateral schools (operating selective and non-selective streams of entry), and City Technology Colleges. More and more secondary and primary schools are becoming grant-maintained (GM), and thereby enjoying the freedom and real sense of ownership that GM status brings. Limited opportunities and limited choice have been replaced by

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greater choice and greater access. The means to realise the essential goals of Our educational system are greater now than ever they have been before.

1.6 More diversity allows schools to respond more effectively to the needs of the local and national community. The greater their autonomy, the greater the responsiveness of schools. Parents know best the needs of their children - certainly better than educational theorists or administrators, better even than our mostly excellent teachers. Children themselves, as they grow older and mature, often have a well developed sense of their needs and a good grasp of the quality of the teaching they receive. Listening to their views, both through their parents and directly, can help schools in improving the standards of their service. The better the service, the greater the commitment of parents and pupils and the greater the willingness of parents to be involved with the life and performance of the school. The stronger the commitment, the stronger the school. GM status is already showing just how effective this process can be and pointing the way to the future.

1.7 The Government is therefore firmly wedded to parental choice and involvement and to the pursuit of excellence for all pupils within a framework provided by the National Curriculum. These are the essential pillars supporting the system that educates our children. They owe their existence to the fundamental changes of the 1980s. It is the intention of this White Paper and the legislation which will follow to complete the process of change by introducing a new and evolutionary framework for the organisation of our schools, robust enough to last well into the next century. That framework will be stable but broad, allowing a rich and diverse system of slate funded education, looking after every child, enhancing the life of those with special educational needs, catering for the very bright or talented - and all the while ensuring genuine opportunity through a high quality curriculum common to all, the best opener of doors and broadener of horizons that we can devise.

1.8 The process of change is never easy for those involved. Parents are naturally concerned about the implications for their children. Teachers worry about what it means for pupils, their school and the burdens on them as they pursue their vocation. Managers throughout the education service have to be mindful of what it all costs, as well as what the reforms have to achieve. The Government recognise these concerns. We have a good education system. The transformation of education we have undertaken is designed to ensure that our education system becomes the best in Europe.

The 1980s - Five Great Themes

1.9 Five great themes run through the story of educational change in England and Wales since 1979: quality, diversity, increasing parental choice, greater autonomy for schools and greater accountability.


1.10 Central to everything the Government has done since 1979 has been a search for higher quality for the nation's children in our schools. This has comprised a national curriculum, greater choice and accountability, more autonomy and proposals for frequent inspection.

1.11 The 1985 White Paper, Better Schools (Cmnd 9469), identified the importance of establishing national objectives for the school curriculum to ensure that every child

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had the opportunity to pursue a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum. This work was carried forward into the landmark legislation of the Education Reform Act 1988, establishing the framework for the National Curriculum which has now guaranteed to all pupils the same grounding in the essential subjects.

1.12 The National Curriculum provides clear objectives and a basic framework of standards for what pupils should know, do and understand. It is for pupils of all ages and all abilities - in primary, secondary and special schools. What was hotly contested in the mid-1980s is now widely accepted. Debate is no longer about the principle of a national curriculum but about the detail. It is about how subjects should be developed within the National Curriculum and about the crucial testing arrangements associated with them: it is not about whether subjects should form part of the National Curriculum. That debate will continue and it is a healthy one. The Government will keep the curriculum under review and, as the effects of the introduction of the National Curriculum become apparent, will consult widely about the case for further refinements if necessary.

1.13 The Government is firmly wedded to quality within the framework provided by the National Curriculum, measured by the school assessment and examination process and - very importantly - judged by a powerful and independent new Inspectorate.

1.14 Previous local authority inspection arrangements in some areas were shameful - irregular and unsystematic visits followed by unpublished reports with little or no evaluation. A report by the Audit Commission in 1989 (Assuring Quality in Education: A Report on Local Education Authority Inspectors and Advisors, HMSO, 1989) was damning, and rightly so, of the school inspection service in many local education authorities (LEAs), depicting a system in disarray without clear policies or guidelines. Inspectors in some areas were reported to be spending as little as 3% of their time in the classrooms; too often there was no clear distinction between inspection and advice, so that sometimes inspectors told schools what to do and then checked up to see if they were doing it - rather than their proper task of evaluating whether or not it worked. Although there has been some improvement since 1989, it has been too slow and uneven. The Government could not let this continue. Hence, from next year, all schools will be subject to regular and rigorous inspection under the watchful eye of the new and powerful Chief Inspector of Schools.

1.15 Another important facet in the drive for higher quality in schools is the use of appraisal, which allows teachers to evaluate the best practices of their peers. Those who have already taken part in appraisal have generally found it rewarding and professionally valuable. The Government also believes that quality will be enhanced by greater accountability - letting parents know how schools are performing - and by greater local autonomy and specialisation. Allowing schools to make decisions appropriate to their needs and to build on their strengths produces better and more committed centres of learning. By allowing resources to follow the pupil, we ensure that good schools can flourish.


1.16 Uniformity in educational provision presupposes that children are all basically the same and that local communities have essentially the same educational needs. The reality is that children have different needs. The provision of education should be

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geared more to local circumstances and individual needs: hence our commitment to diversity in education. The Assisted Places Scheme, offered by the Education Act 1980, was the first step towards greater diversity. The second was contained in the Education Reform Act 1988, which substantially increased diversity through the opportunity presented to schools in the state sector to opt for GM status. It also made possible the introduction of our excellent City Technology Colleges, improving opportunities for those in our inner cities. All schools now have the freedom under local management of schools to take decisions reflecting their own priorities and circumstances in a way that was not possible a few years ago under the bureaucratic rule of local government.

Parental Choice

1.17 Since 1980, the Government has been intent on widening parental choice, and entrenching parental influence and control. The Education Act 1980 rightly reversed the burden of proof in favour of parents. For the first time an LEA had to show why a parent's preference for a school should not be satisfied. Local appeal committees were established to hear the complaints of aggrieved parents on behalf of their children. Since then the reality that the 'parents know best' has been accepted more and more. This basic principle infused the Education (No 2) Act 1986, which gave them a much greater involvement in the running of schools through their direct participation in new governing bodies, with substantial and innovative powers. The Education Reform Act 1988, through its open enrolment provisions, secured more choice for parents, requiring schools to admit pupils up to the limits of their physical capacity. The availability of parental ballots on GM status has become a further powerful instrument of parental choice, allowing parents to choose the form of control for each school. Finally, by specifying that the allocation of delegated budgets should be primarily pupil-led, the Education Reform Act 1988 ensured that parental choice directly influences individual schools - the more pupils a school attracts, the larger its budget.

Greater School Autonomy

1.18 Before the Education Act 1980, schools were, in many cases, merely administrative units of the LEA. The Education Committee was often the collective governing body for all the county schools in its area. Elected members could serve on any number of governing bodies, which had no significant powers independent of their education authority. The 1980s saw the emergence of the governing body as an independent unit, and the movement to greater school autonomy at the expense of the LEA. The Education (No 2) Act 1986 defined for the first time a clear and distinctive job for the governing body on which parents and teachers would always be represented. The Education Reform Act 1988 carried this process further through delegation via local management of schools and culminating in the opportunity for parents to opt for GM school status, a process which is transforming the educational landscape of this country.

Greater Accountability

1.19 The corollary of increased autonomy for schools is greater accountability by them to parents, employers and the wider community. This finds its root in the Education Act

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1980, which took the first step towards requiring the publication of performance data in school prospectuses. That requirement was strengthened in 1986; again in 1988; and was completed in the Education (Schools] Act 1992 which, in line with the Citizen's Charter, made provision for the publication of data about performance and school attendance: as well as four-yearly inspection reports. Annual meetings with parents to consider a report {rom the governing body and the publication of financial data under the local management of schools are part of the same process. Scrutiny by parents, employers and the local community at large will be intense, interested and increasingly informed, to the benefit of our children.

1.20 These five themes provide the framework for the Government's aims, and together define our goal for Britain's education system. The measures necessary to achieve that goal are now largely in place. This White Paper and the proposed legislation that flows from it will complete the process.



1.21 If children are to receive the best education possible, it is a pre-requisite that they attend school and recognise their responsibilities - to others as well as to themselves. Once there, they deserve the best education possible That, as we have seen, depends on decisions made locally - ensuring efficient use of resources and concentration on particular educational needs - and on strong leadership. High standards will be fostered through testing, specialisation, rigorous inspection and an ever-deepening recognition of the needs of individual pupils. These are the imperatives for the 1990s. Together they provide the means for realising our vision for education in the 21st century.

Going to School, Staying There and Learning

1.22 There is little point in having good, regularly inspected schools, first rate teachers and the National Curriculum well taught and assessed, if all of our children do not attend school, remain there, and learn throughout the whole of the school day.

1.23 There is too much truancy from our schools. This undermines our educational system. It means that some schools are turning a blind eye, and some parents are not fulfilling their side of the bargain by meeting their legal obligation to see that their child attends school. Worst of all, it can lead to much unhappiness amongst school children themselves, as well as to problems for the community.

1.24 This Government sets great store by ensuring that children go to school and stay there throughout the school day. We are no longer prepared to allow schools to t urn a blind eye, and have therefore placed them under new legal requirements. We wish all schools to follow the practice of the best, making school attendance one of their fundamental tasks. That is why from this autumn all maintained schools will have to publish their truancy records, which will be a powerful incentive for all the underperforming schools to do better.

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1.25 Boys or girls who stay away from school, or who having been entered on the register then absent themselves for substantial parts of the school day, are more likely to grow up unhappy and unfulfilled, leave school much less qualified than they might otherwise be and worst of all sometimes get drawn into a life of crime.

1.26 In a variety of ways and across a range of subject areas, young people should always be taught that, in addition to rights and expectations, they also have important duties and responsibilities to their community. They should be encouraged to be involved members of those communities, to grow up as active citizens. They should be taught the importance of developing a strong moral code that includes a concern for others, self- respect and self-discipline, as well as basic values such as honesty and truthfulness. Schools should have and should communicate a clear vision of those things they and the community hold to be important. The transition from dependent child to independent adult, imbued with these moral codes and values, should be the aim of every school and every teacher. Most do this very well and are to be warmly congratulated on it. Some struggle to do it, or fail - sometimes because of the indifference of parents or the surrounding community. This problem is often at its worst in our inner city or large housing estate areas, though there are beacon schools in such areas whose head teachers and governors have taken swift and effective remedial action. Unsurprisingly, these are the schools to which parents flock, whose walls will bulge and whose education is an object lesson.

1.27 Regular attendance at school and taking advantage of a good education within a strong moral, spiritual and cultural context, are not only essential to becoming well qualified and to growing up well balanced, they are also one of the best deterrents against criminality. A good school is a bulwark against those pressures which undermine individual and community values. Mere attendance at school is not going to stop a boy, or more rarely a girl, becoming a criminal, but it is certainly one of those things which, like parental guidance and the influence of contemporaries, is likely to help. Ask any police officer or probation worker, and he or she will tell you that the slide of a boy into criminality often has a depressingly familiar pattern. It starts with hanging around street corners, drifting into shop-lifting and stealing bicycles, 'progresses' to petty burglary, perhaps becoming involved with drugs, and then moves on to stealing cars or criminal damage. Before long, the journey from street corner to prison cell is complete; the boy is an habitual criminal, and a significant part of his young life may then be spent behind bars. This cycle of criminality is too often triggered by being truant from school.

1.28 More needs to be done in teacher training courses to prepare young teachers for ensuring commitment on the part of their pupils, and revisions and improvements to the National Curriculum need to keep good citizenship under close review. League tables of truancy amongst schools will expose the problem and give further stimulus to the activities of Education Welfare Officers. LEAs should use their legal powers to bring before the courts parents who have failed to ensure that their children go to school. The new office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools (OHMCI) has a central role to play. The Inspectorate, under Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, will be commenting not just on academic performance but on the ethos of schools, a critical part of which is their attitude to attendance, often the best litmus test for a school's ability to run itself properly. The Government intends to do all it can to support the work of Her Majesty's Inspectorate in promoting the overall ethos of the school in this way.

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Schools and a Moral Dimension

1.29 The Government believes that religious education in schools is important and central to that ethos. The moral dimension of a school must constantly be reviewed and refreshed in order to promote the spiritual, cultural, mental and physical development of boys and girls as part of preparing them for their adult life. Schools should not be, and generally are not, value-free zones.

1.30 Whatever the individual religious feelings of boys and girls, the ethos of any school should include a clear vision of the values within it, and those of the community outside. Those values include respect for people and property; honesty and consideration for others; trust, fairness and politeness.

1.31 While there can be no attainment targets or performance indicators for these achievements, they are critically important in encouraging our children to grow up understanding what is right and wrong, and journeying into adulthood not just full of exuberance or individuality, but also appreciating the needs of others and their environment.

1.32 There are many opportunities for pupils to develop in this way, particularly through the act of collective worship; through the teaching of the National Curriculum together with religious education; and most of all through the general style and atmosphere of the school itself. The Government is convinced that it must do all it can to help schools to develop in this way, as so many have done already.

Successful Schools and Strong Leadership

1.33 Central to a good school ethos is strong leadership and deep parental involvement. It is sometimes hard to pin down what exactly makes people point at a place and say 'that's a good school'. It is not always characterised by spending more money, having smaller class sizes, larger libraries, better buildings, new facilities, or other things that many people seek in wanting to improve our schools. One of the most significant factors in creating a good school is always going to be parental involvement in its life and progress. A second is freedom from excessive external control and regulation, leaving more power in the hands of the individual school to plan its own priorities within national guidelines - a process much hastened of late and with considerable success by local management of schools and the ability for some schools, on the initiative of parents, to become grant-maintained. Thirdly, the school will have teachers of high quality under the strong leadership of the head teacher.

1.34 Strong leadership of teachers and pupils usually means articulating a clear academic mission for the school, setting standards and creating a recognisable ethos. These are not ends in themselves. But they are necessary conditions for good management. Better management contributes to better education. It is not just about book-keeping - though financial disciplines obviously have their most important place. It is rather about the better use of the school's resources, and particularly harnessing the talents of staff, to raise standards.

1.35 Most people arc not born managers. The skills of management have to be learned and practised. The best head teachers and senior teachers recognise the value of develop∑ ing and then refreshing these skills: by taking advantage of short programmes and

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courses offered by universities, business schools, some LEAs and professional associations. Much management development call and should take place on the job if it is organised well. The School Management Task Force has given a further impetus to this welcome trend. It is important that the momentum is sustained, both by encouraging head and senior teachers to set a high value on the skills of management and by encouraging the providers of training to meet their needs in a convenient and cost effective way.

School Inspection and the Demystification of Education

1.36 Critical to the working and the improvement of school education into the new century will be the role of the new schools' Inspectorate, regularly investigating how schools are getting on, and making the results of that investigation freely, regularly and easily available to parents and to the local community. When the then Department of Education and Science carried out a survey in 1989 (The Parental Awareness of School Education, Public Attitude Surveys Ltd, 1989), two out of every three parents said they wanted more information about what went on in schools. They have a right to that information. The Government is determined that they shall have it, and that it shall be given in a straightforward and simple way - characteristic of an open society - rather than in jargon-laden, inward-looking and technical language suitable only for the professional.

1.37 If necessary, the Government will consider further measures to enhance the role of the Inspectorate. The immediate task for it, however, is to complete for the first time ever a Doomsday Book-like survey of the quality and achievements of all of England's schools, and to do so within four years. Six thousand schools a year will be examined. Secondary school inspection will start in September 1993, and similar investigations of primary and special schools will start a year later. Under the Parent's Charter, parents have the right to expect such information - were it not for the Government's determination and for the new proposals for inspection, most would certainly never receive it. At the prevailing rate of inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Schools before the changes introduced in the Education (Schools) Act 1992, it would have taken some sixty years to cover every secondary school in England, and two hundred years to inspect each of our twenty thousand primary schools.

1.38 We will therefore have a substantial volume of comparative evidence about our schools to be made available to parents, governors and LEAs, as well as to the local community. This work will continue in four-yearly cycles, and will have a major impact on the way in which our children are educated. It will ensure that parents and others can compare the performance of all local schools in key aspects of educational activity. Every parent will be sent a readable summary of the full inspection report, governors will have to prepare action plans to follow it up and then report back regularly to parents on their progress.

1.39 The new inspection arrangements will greatly improve the quality and the quantity of information about the education of our children - not for its own sake, but because parents, teachers and governors need the best possible information if they are to play their proper part in improving educational standards.

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A Better Curriculum, Better Testing

1.40 Just as the Government has made clear that it is committed to the National Curriculum, which is central to the life of schools, it is absolutely committed to testing. Assessment and testing are the keys to monitoring and raising standards in our schools. Teachers realise that testing encourages the greater involvement of parents in our schools - tests supply the information which informs parents and are entirely consistent with the aims of the Citizen's Charter.

1.41 It is a misguided notion on the part of some educational theorists that if work is graded some children and their parents will think of themselves as failures. Pupils need to be told when they are doing badly just as much as they need to be told when they are doing well - praise or encouragement loses value if lavished on every piece of work. Most of our excellent teachers recognise this. But the Government remains concerned by reports from the present Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Schools about the quality of marking, and by the diffidence that some teachers show when they ought to insist that poor work has to be improved and corrected, leading to low expectations and therefore low performance.

1.42 The Government is concerned about children at all levels, including those who are not being sufficiently stretched. One of the critical purposes of testing and assessment is to pinpoint those children who are having difficulty with a particular topic, subject, or range of issues, and to enable remedial work to be started as soon as possible. Tests are also critical in spotting under-achievement among more academically-able children, for they are graded at various levels, allowing children who pass with ease to try for the next level. Under-achievement is to be discouraged, and more attention needs to be given to this in teacher training courses, now increasingly to be conducted on school premises.

1.43 The Government is very grateful to the National Curriculum Council and to the School Examinations and Assessment Council, their Chairmen and members for what they have done to introduce major changes in our primary and secondary schools. Their work is closely related and the time has come to bring that work closer together. That is why this White Paper proposes to set up a completely new body, the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority [see chapter 21. Together with the Office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, this new body will be one of the central pillars of our educational architecture. The Chief Inspector of Schools is statutorily independent, and must remain so. However, it is clearly important that he should have his advice heard at an early stage on those issues which he will later have to judge, and so he will be an assessor to the new Authority.

Specialisation, Selection and Higher Standards

1.44 Diversity and parental choice allow schools to develop in different ways. In particular, they encourage schools to play to their strengths. Some schools stress an all-ability curriculum; others, in addition to the National Curriculum, specialise in one or a small number of subjects.

1.45 Specialisation is often confused with selection, just as aptitude may be muddled with ability. The two are not the same. A school that specialises is not necessarily one that applies rigid academic criteria for entry, for a non-selective school can also choose to specialise.

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1.46 A school that wishes to develop its strengths and place an emphasis on particular teaching skills can usually do so within its existing powers. It generally does not constitute a significant change of character requiring the approval of the Secretary of State. If schools wish to develop in this way, responding to the aspirations of parents and local economic needs, then it is entirely appropriate that they should use the discretion vested in them to do so. As schools develop their strengths, they may become more attractive to parents and pupils. The greater the demand to attend the school, the greater the resources that will flow to the school.

1.47 The fact that a school is strong in a particular field may increase the demand to attend, but it does not necessarily follow that selective entry criteria have to be imposed by the school. The selection that takes place is parent-driven. The principle of open access remains. As demand to attend increases, so the school may require extra resources to cope with the range of talent available.

1.48 Specialisation is essentially a matter for local needs and deliberations. The Government would like to encourage schools to take advantage of the opportunities for specialisations, with the support of sponsor governors, outlined in this White Paper (see chapter 10). Specialisation is separate from the issue of selection. For a nonselective school to become selective - or vice versa - involves a significant change of character in the school and thus requires the approval of the Secretary of State. We will continue the practice of treating each application on its merits and will consider all applications in the context of the educational needs and provision of the area in which they are made. It is not the Government's intention either to encourage or to discourage such applications.

1.49 Diversity entails a range of choices available to parents. Parents can choose the school they believe best suited to the particular interests and aptitude of their children. The Government is committed to parity of esteem between academic, technological and creative skills, with all children - whatever their aptitude and in whatever type of school - being taught the National Curriculum to the same high standards. The Government wants to ensure that there are no tiers of schools within the maintained system but rather parity of esteem between different schools, in order to offer parents a wealth of choice. After wartime deliberations, and the Education Act 1944 which followed, those who argued so vigorously the pros and cons of selection and the 11 plus examination in the 1950s and 1960s lived in a different educational world, which had no National Curriculum taught in common throughout the tripartite system of secondary schools, ensuring equality of opportunity. Thus, the school system then offered no guarantee of an equal chance for all children.

1.50 Now the whole emphasis of our changes in the educational system - towards diversity, higher standards and choice - is designed to allow all children to realise their full potential. For some pupils, two good A levels may be below their full potential. For others, a few GCSEs may be more than parents and teachers expected and represent a personal triumph for the pupils concerned. In terms of fulfilment, the latter may indeed have derived far more from school than the former. Some pupils will have greater aptitude in one area than another. Aptitude - including interest and keenness - can be just as important as sheer ability. The desire to do well in the creative arts and music, in languages, in business studies, in scientific or technological education, or in the classics is to be encouraged. The Government's goal is to

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ensure that we have an education system that is second to none in helping to liberate the talents of our children while at the same lime ensuring they all get the same high quality common grounding.

Meeting the Needs and Aspirations of All Pupils

1.51 Many children have particular educational needs. Some because they have learning difficulties, others because their behaviour is disruptive, others because they are exceptionally able and cannot be stretched sufficiently to give expression to their abilities The Government is equally concerned about all of these children.

1.52 Our approach to these children's education is based upon the same fundamental principles which run through all our policies - an emphasis on the needs of the individual child; the right of parents to know about their education and to be involved; the duty on LEAs to identify, assess and provide for special needs; and the duty to ensure that a child with special needs of whatever sort should be educated in a mainstream school if at all possible. We remain committed to the principle that the National Curriculum should be for the benefit of all our children: it provides the best guarantee that each child will make progress from whatever base he or she starts, that he or she does so within a common framework and that the parents can easily tell how well their child is doing.

Children with Learning Difficulties

1.53 The Government is committed to improving the educational opportunities for children with special needs and to strengthening the involvement of parents. We have already undertaken a fundamental review of the provisions of the Education Act 1981. We have concluded that it is right to develop the Act by bringing forward proposals to improve access to the present arrangements for assessments and statements; to give parents the right to express a preference for their child's school; to provide clear and sensible avenues of appeal for parents who are not satisfied with the decisions made about their child; and to set up an independent Tribunal to deal with appeals. These proposals represent a very important advance in the interests of children with special needs and in the rights of their parents. If we wish to treat all children the same, as we do, we must allow the mothers and fathers of children with special needs to play just as full a part in the decisions about their child's education and to express their preference for a particular special or ordinary school from within the maintained sector as any other parent. We intend to achieve these reforms as Soon as possible.

Children Who Behave Badly

1.54 The Government is deeply concerned about those children who behave badly, whether by staying away from school or misbehaving while at school. There are too many children playing truant, as already discussed in this chapter. There are also too many children excluded from school, either permanently or temporarily. Under the new arrangements proposed in this White Paper, there will be a clear obligation for the provision of alternative education. This is of great importance for such children in difficulty, both for their personal happiness, fulfilment and job prospects as adults and in order to prevent some of them drifting into a life of crime.

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1.55 Those who persistently misbehave at school not only ruin their own educational opportunities, they disrupt the education of all their classmates.

The Brighter Child

1.56 The Government firmly believes that education within the maintained sector should provide for children of all abilities, including the most able.

1.57 All children should receive an education which stretches and encourages them, enabling them to benefit to the full extent of their abilities. The National Curriculum will playa crucial role in this respect. It is important that there is sufficient flexibility within the National Curriculum to allow pupils to progress at the best pace to suit their needs. It is a vital part of the role of the school that no child is held back.

1.58 Children with exceptional ability should be advanced within the higher groups for all or part of the curriculum. The Government has acted under the Education Reform Act 1988 so that, in addition to individual pupils, whole classes can also be allowed to progress as quickly as is educationally desirable. The National Curriculum is designed to have challenging specific goals to aim for at each stage of a child's development. For example, the introduction from 1994 of 'Level 10', above the present GCSE Grade A, will ensure that the very brightest pupils are stretched much further than they have been; and new GCSE examinations being developed by the examination boards will offer differentiated papers to ensure that greater demands are made of the most able 14, 15 and 16 year olds. The Government is grateful to the examination boards for this work.

Greater Efficiency for Better Education

1.59 Tho much money is being spent in England on maintaining surplus school places. This is wrong, and represents wasted money, money which ought to be going into schools for the benefit of pupils. The independent sector depends on its performance and parental demand to maintain the places it offers to those who wish to take them up.

1.60 The existence of the right of parents to choose independent schools for their children is properly guaranteed by international convention. The Government is glad to see excellent independent education in our country and supports closer cooperation between public and private sectors. Good independent schools will always flourish in a free society; others will not and may close. Indeed, some of those at the margins may well face severe pressure in their catchment areas as parents recognise the high quality of state education. However, the public sector must learn from the private sector too and recognise that we can no longer afford to maintain the existing number of surplus places.

1.61 Some LEAs have made efforts in recent years to deal with this problem. Their efforts should be applauded: schools attract deep loyalties and closures are rarely popular and require considerable political and administrative will to bring about. However, both locally and nationally it is educationally undesirable as well as poor stewardship of taxpayers' money to waste it on surplus places. One of the most important tasks for the rest of this decade is to eliminate surplus places while at the same time ensuring high quality provision of new schools in areas where this is necessary. The needs of

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rural and sparsely-populated areas must be recognised, but throughout the process the overwhelming imperative is to ensure that money is spent on pupils and not on unnecessary buildings.

1.62 Removing surplus places is but one means of achieving the more efficient use of resources. The most effective - and the most extensive - means of achieving efficiency is through giving greater powers to governing bodies. Decisions taken by governing bodies are geared to the particular needs of the school. Decisions can be taken quickly and resources can be targeted where most needed.

1.63 Allowing for parent power, through governing bodies, encourages not only greater efficiency, but as a corollary, a greater emphasis on achievement and specialisation. It is at the heart of Government policy. We are thus committed to ensuring that parents are not denied the opportunity to seek GM status for their school. GM status is the logical extension of local management of schools. In some areas parents have been able to initiate a ballot and have enjoyed a fair and open environment within which to debate and decide the issue. Elsewhere, various obstacles have been erected to discourage balloting for GM status and, when ballots have been held, parents have been denied a balanced presentation of the arguments. In some cases the tactics have been intimidatory.

1.64 The Government is not prepared to tolerate such situations any more and this White Paper details the legislative provisions designed to tackle the problem. Parents must be allowed to choose and to do so on the basis of a fair and balanced presentation of what GM status entails.

1.65 Where parents have been given a proper choice, they have shown that they are greatly attracted by the prospect of GM status for their child's school. The Government believes that the number of GM schools will increase substantially during the lifetime of this Parliament. This increase necessitates the creation of a new funding and organisational framework for GM schools. The main elements of this new framework are outlined in this White Paper. These proposals will be at the heart of the legislation that will follow.

1.66 It is essential to the progress of all these policies that the importance and rights of parents are fully recognised. In many cases parental wishes expressed through choice of school will drive improvements. We shall make sure parents have comprehensive and timely information so that they can play their part to the full. In addition, we shall safeguard and keep under review parents' channels of complaint and rights of redress if they are dissatisfied. All parents have the right to know the procedures open to them, and feel assured that those procedures are swift, easily accessible and effective. As promised in the Parent's Charter, we are introducing independent members onto committees which hear appeals from parents about admissions and expulsions. This will ensure that parents have a fair and sympathetic hearing.

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1.67 These vital educational imperatives can be realised through existing policies already set in train, through action by governors under powers already vested in governing bodies, through the initiative of parents and through new legislation. The substance of this White Paper necessarily focuses on those imperatives that will be addressed by the new Education Bill. The legislation will form part of the Government's strategy for education. It will be a central part, essential to realising our goal of creating the best possible education system in the next century.

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  • The Government believes that school autonomy and parental choice - combined with the National Curriculum - are the keys to achieving higher standards in all schools
  • The National Curriculum gives all pupils an entitlement to be taught the essentials of the most important subjects to the limits of their abilities
  • A single new body, the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, will replace and combine the functions of the National Curriculum Council and the School Examinations and Assessment Council

2.1 The overriding aim of Government policy is continuously to raise the standards achieved in schools by all pupils of all abilities. The structure of the school system must be judged according to how far it contributes to, or detracts from, the achievement of that aim. The reform programme introduced following the Education Reform Act 1988 has begun to raise standards. Its full implementation will, however, require further organisational changes to create choice, diversity and better standards.

2.2 It is worth setting out in some detail what has been achieved. Since 1988, a new curriculum and examinations framework for the achievement of higher standards has been set in place:

  • The National Curriculum has established, for the first time, challenging national targets for learning for pupils aged 5-16 of all abilities in all the key subjects of the curriculum. Those targets, which reflect widespread consultation and the advice of the National Curriculum Council, are now fully in place in all the subjects of the National Curriculum. The targets give clear common objectives to which all schools are now teaching their pupils. They offer to all pupils a common entitlement which schools are required to teach and on which parents have the right to insist.
  • The National Curriculum assessment arrangements, which combine national tests commissioned by the School Examinations and Assessment Council and teachers' own judgements of classroom work, measure pupils' progress towards the national targets at the key ages of 7, 11, 14 and 16. Pupils are tested on a common 10- level scale underpinned by criteria for success, so that the results are comparable from school to school across the country. The tests were introduced for 7 year olds in 1991 and will extend to 14 year olds in 1993, and 11 year olds in 1994. The first tests have already highlighted serious gaps in children's knowledge of mathematics and reading abilities, and substantial differences in the performance of different schools and LEAs. These are being urgently addressed.
  • The GCSE examination, introduced in 1988, has enabled much higher proportions of 16 year olds - particularly those of around average ability - to show what they can do. As a result, the proportion of school-leavers attaining 5 or more passes at grades A to C at GCSE or equivalent has gone up from 24% in 1980 to 30% in 1988 and 38% in 1991.

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  • The increased attainments in GCSE and the associated increases in motivation have led much larger numbers of young people to stay on in full-time education. The proportion of 16 year olds in sixth forms or full-time further education has increased dramatically from under 50% in 1987-88 to approaching 70% in 1991-92; and that of 17 year olds has gone up from 33% to nearly 50% over the same period.
  • From 1994, the GCSE will progressively embody the National Curriculum targets. It will stretch all pupils, including the most able, more effectively; and, since the GCSE will then reflect directly the curriculum that pupils will have pursued throughout their schooling, pupils will come to it better prepared and substantial further improvements in attainment at age 16 can be expected.
  • The Government has strongly encouraged the development of A level examinations and introduced AS examinations. This has been reflected in increases in the proportion of 18 year olds achieving one or more A level or two or more AS passes: from 18% in 1980 to 21 % in 1988 and 27% in 1991.
  • The Government has also promoted the introduction of high quality vocational qualifications to mirror these developments. The first General National Vocational Qualifications will be available in a small number of schools from September 1992. The combined effect is greatly to extend the opportunities for young people to secure worthwhile qualifications.
Inspection of Schools

2.3 As a consequence of the Government's reforms, the results achieved by pupils and their schools are now subject to much greater scrutiny, and will inform action necessary to secure improvements in individual schools:

  • under the Parent's Charter, to which the Education [Schools] Act 1992 gives full effect, all schools will be required to report to parents at least annually on the achievements of their own children. The results of National Curriculum tests and of public examinations for the age groups concerned will be published by schools and in comparative tables for every area. This will provide more reliable and useful information than ever before about school performance As age groups of pupils move from one key stage of the National Curriculum to the next and beyond, it will be possible to compare the results they achieve and so measure more effectively the value added to pupils' education by individual schools; and
  • there will be regular inspection of all maintained schools. Under the Education (Schools) Act 1992, an independent inspection of the quality of teaching and the standards achieved in all maintained schools will be made every four years. This will lead to a published report highlighting strengths and weaknesses. Schools will have to publish a plan of action to tackle the weaknesses identified by the inspectors and report on progress to parents every year.
School Curriculum and Assessment Authority

2.4 The Government now proposes to take a further step by legislating to create the new School Curriculum and Assessment Authority with responsibility in England for ensuring quality in the curriculum and the associated assessment arrangements. This

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new body will replace and bring a new coherence to the work of the National Curriculum Council and the School Examinations and Assessment Council. Except in respect of Welsh, it will advise on assessment and examination matters for Key Stage 4 and beyond for both England and Wales.

2.5 The National Curriculum Council has completed its initial remit now that all the subjects of the National Curriculum are in place, and the School Examinations and Assessment Council has created the framework for National Curriculum assessment and testing. The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority will combine the continuing task of keeping the curriculum under review, and ensuring that it maintains its relevance and vitality as a force for raising expectations and standards, with the closely related task of seeking rigour, simplicity and clarity in National Curriculum testing and examination arrangements. The Authority will maintain and, where necessary, improve the standards of such tests and examinations. Its principal functions will be:

  • to keep all aspects of the curriculum for maintained schools and examinations and assessment under review, and to advise the Government accordingly;
  • to publish and disseminate information related to the curriculum, examinations and assessment;
  • to advise the Secretary of State on the recognition of qualifications or courses taught in schools, working closely with the National Council for Vocational Qualifications on vocational options; and
  • to advise upon, and carry out only if requested by the Secretary of State, related programmes of research and development.
The Authority will take account of any directions and carry out other duties which the Secretary of State may give it.

2.6 The Government expects the new body to come into being as soon as is practicable following the passing of the necessary legislation. The Authority will have up to fifteen members including a chairman appointed by the Secretary of State, who will also appoint the first chief executive Subsequent chief executives will be appointed by the Authority with the approval of the Secretary of State. The Authority will need to draw in particular on the advice of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, who will be an assessor to the Authority.

Accountability of Schools

2.7 Schools are now much more accountable for the education they offer to their pupils, individually and collectively. As a result of the Government's reforms, there are new pressures on schools to meet the challenges of teaching the National Curriculum and securing higher standards of achievement. Now schools seek to respond to a combination of:

  • the clear targets of the National Curriculum, which give schools and parents alike benchmarks against which to judge the progress of pupils, both individually and collectively;
  • assessment arrangements and public examinations which measure pupils' progress in relation to those targets at regular intervals;

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  • the publication of the results of National Curriculum tests and public examinations, backed up by regular independent inspections, which will enable parents to hold schools to account for their performance and give them assurance about standards of teaching; and
  • the broadening of choice of schools, which will enable parents to act on information about schools' relative performance and to choose schools which are right for their children.
2.8 The objective has been both to put governing bodies and head teachers under the greater pressure of public accountability for better standards and to increase their freedom to respond to that pressure. The autonomy acquired under local management of schools and, in ever greater numbers, as GM schools, offers schools enhanced powers to achieve better performance in their schools to match their increased accountability for that performance. Together with the senior staff of schools, governing bodies have reacted very positively to their new autonomy, using their greater flexibility to deploy resources, including the selection and use of staff, to better effect. The Government pays tribute to the contributions made by governing bodies. It is that combination of unpaid but increasingly experienced governors and professional senior staff that is best placed to identify what is required, for example to tackle weaknesses disclosed by inspection or by their assessment and examination results, and to meet parents' wishes generally.

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  • The rapid and successful growth in the number of grant-maintained schools needs to be matched by the evolution of a new organisational framework for the education service
  • The Government will establish a new statutory body - the Funding Agency for Schools
  • The Funding Agency will take over from the Department for Education the payment of recurrent and capital grant to GM schools The Funding Agency will share with the LEA the duty to secure sufficient secondary or primary school places in the area, from the point where 10% of those pupils in the LEA are in GM schools. The Funding Agency will discharge the duty by itself when 75% of secondary (or primary) pupils in the LEA are in GM schools, though the LEA may apply to be relieved of this responsibility well before that point is reached
  • The Secretary of State will have new powers to replace first governors in a GM school where the governing body is failing the school

3.1 The Education Reform Act 1988 and Education (Schools) Act 1992 have set in train a transformation of our school system. They have created more choice and wider opportunities as a springboard to higher standards. Central to this has been the development of school autonomy, both within schemes of local management and, increasingly, as GM schools outside local government.

3.2 Nearly 300 schools have been approved as GM schools, to operate alongside county and voluntary schools in more than half of LEAs. Already in one LEA the majority of secondary schools are now grant-maintained, and in a number of others the proportion exceeds a third. On a simple projection of current trends, there could be over 1,500 GM schools by April 1994. By 1996 most of the 3,900 maintained secondary schools, as well as a significant proportion of the 19,000 maintained primary schools, could be grant-maintained.

3.3 GM schools are self-governing schools. Thai autonomy is at the heart of the GM school idea, and at the heart of the Government's education policies. The common experience of GM schools is that their status significantly enhances the work of the school. The real sense of ownership they enjoy has proved highly motivating. GM schools have found that they can use to very good effect their share of their former LEA's central costs. The number of applications for admissions to many of them has increased significantly.

3.4 It is right that the route to GM status should remain the parental ballot. However, the Government firmly believes that self-government is best for state schools and remains fully committed to the advancement of this end. It hopes that over time all schools will become grant-maintained. The Secretary of State will also not hesitate to use his powers to ensure that unpopular or less effective schools which remain in the LEA maintained sector are closed so as to ensure better use of available resources.

3.5 There are, however, some functions that even autonomous schools cannot carry out for themselves. For example, someone has to calculate levels of current and capital

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funding and pay relevant grants to schools. Schools' use of public funds needs to be subject to scrutiny and audit. These tasks currently fall to the Department for Education. As the number of GM schools grows, it will become increasingly inefficient and inappropriate for these essentially executive tasks to be performed by a Department of State.

3.6 Furthermore, it will also become increasingly difficult for the LEA on its own to secure, as is its duty, that there are sufficient, suitable primary and secondary school places available in the area, and to ensure that every child of compulsory school age is being suitably educated. Nor can these responsibilities fall to individual GM schools even though they will have an increasing part to play, as the number of places they provide grows: there is a need for a new body which can share this duty and which is separate from and can make proposals to the Secretary of State.

A Funding Agency for Schools

3.7 Against this background, the Government will legislate to set in place a new and evolutionary framework for the organisation of schools in England. The framework will be designed:

  • to develop flexibly, area by area, in response to local circumstances and parental demand;
  • to permit powers and responsibilities to be devolved to individual schools to the maximum extent practicable;
  • to vest in a statutory national body responsibility for distributing grant to GM schools and for financial monitoring; and
  • to provide for that body to take on wider planning responsibilities, as the proportion of pupils in GM schools in a given area increases.
3.8 Th meet these objectives, the Government proposes to establish a new statutory body, to be known as the Funding Agency for Schools. It will have 10-15 members appointed by the Secretary of State, drawn from various backgrounds to reflect a broad mix of educational and other experience. A substantial number of the members will come from outside education, including key appointments {rom the industrial and commercial worlds. It will be important that some members should have experience of maintained, including voluntary, schools. The Funding Agency will have a chairman appointed by the Secretary of State, who will also appoint the first chief executive. Subsequent chief executives will be appointed by the Funding Agency with the approval of the Secretary of State. The budget and staff complement of the Funding Agency will be approved annually by the Secretary of State, with a view to ensuring that it operates with maximum efficiency.

3.9 The Funding Agency will acquire functions as and when the number of GM schools increases and the Secretary of State so determines. Initially, the Funding Agency will be responsible for the payment of grant and financial monitoring of GM schools, which is now done by the Department (see paragraph 3.11). In addition, as the number of GM schools expands in any area, the Funding Agency will have increasing responsibilities for the rationalisation of places in GM schools and for securing sufficient places (see chapter 4).

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3.10 The Funding Agency will need to be able to gather local information to perform some of its functions, most notably its duty to bring forward school rationalisation plans. It will be able to seek professional advice from OHMCI and elsewhere. Local authorities will be under a duty to provide it with relevant demographic and other information. The Funding Agency will be able, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, to set up regional offices as the number of GM schools grows, to carry out its closely prescribed duties.

3.11 The Funding Agency will have responsibility for the calculation and payment of recurrent and capital grant to GM schools under regulations and guidelines made by the Secretary of State. Associated with this will go the responsibility for monitoring the propriety of the expenditure of GM schools. They will continue to be subject to external audit. The arrangements for the selection by GM schools of their auditors and the conduct of those audits were set out in the audit code published in July 1992.

3.12 At present, the Secretary of State makes the instrument and articles for each G M school, following consultation with the school's governing body. In order to simplify the process, it is proposed that the Secretary of State should have a new power to set out, after consultation with GM schools, common instruments and articles of government in regulations. Where these do not fit precisely the needs of a new GM school, its governing body will have the power to vary the instrument and articles, subject to the consent of the Secretary of Stale.

Quality Assurance

3.13 Quality assurance in GM schools is in the first instance a matter for the governing bodies themselves and their head teachers. They are directly accountable to parents for the performance of their schools. The assessment of school performance and the identification of schools in serious difficulties will be a matter for Her Majesty's Chief Inspector. Parents will continue to have the right to complain to the Secretary of State where they consider that a governing body is failing in its obligations. In future, the Secretary of State could look for advice as appropriate to the Funding Agency as well as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector in responding to such complaints. The Funding Agency will have no powers to maintain its own inspectorate.

3.14 Where a governing body is not meeting its responsibilities, the Secretary of State has a number of courses of action open to him. Under the Education Reform Act 1988, he may add two additional governors or institute procedures to close the school. He may also use powers available to him under the Education Act 1944 to direct the governing body where he is satisfied that it is acting unreasonably or failing in the performance of its statutory duties.

3.15 It is clear, however, that these existing powers are limited and can be only partially effective in the face of an intransigent or divided governing body, and where the ultimate sanction of closure would be unjustified or inappropriate. Therefore, the Government proposes to take a power to enable the Secretary of State in certain circumstances to replace some or all first governors, who must form a majority on the governing bodies of ex-county GM schools. Legislation will specify the circumstances as follows:

  • where the governing body has persistently or substantially failed in one or more of its statutory duties;

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  • where a registered inspector's report has identified that the school is 'at risk' as defined in the Education (Schools) Act 1992, and where the Secretary of State judges that the governing body's action or proposed action is inadequate to remedy the defects identified; or
  • where the Secretary of State is otherwise satisfied that the governing body's actions are such as to prejudice the effective provision of education to the school's pupils.
3.16 These arrangements will apply to ex-county GM schools. Ex-voluntary GM schools have foundation governors rather than first governors. Foundation governors are often appointed by bodies representing the churches, which founded or are responsible for the school. The function of foundation governors is to ensure the maintenance of the special, usually religious, character of the school. Those responsible for their appointment already have the power to replace them. The Government considers that it would not be consistent with the principle of partnership with voluntary schools for the Secretary of State to have the power to remove foundation governors. However, the Government expects that those responsible for the appointment and replacement of foundation governors will take tough action where there are continuo ing and grave problems with a school. The legislation will require those appointing foundation governors to have regard in particular to the circumstances set out in paragraph 3.15 when considering the exercise of their power to replace governors.

3.17 The Secretary of State will have a general power of direction over, and a power to confer additional functions on, the Funding Agency in relation to GM schools. He will exercise this latter power, as and when the increasing number of GM schools makes it desirable, in such a way as to preserve the autonomy of GM schools and to keep the operations of the Funding Agency to the minimum necessary. The Secretary of State's powers to direct, where the body concerned is acting unreasonably or failing in its statutory duties under the Education Act 1944, will apply to the Funding Agency as they apply to school governing bodies and LEAs.

Duty to Secure Sufficient Places

3.18 There will need to be a point at which the Funding Agency takes on some responsibility for securing sufficient, suitable school places in the areas of individual LEAs. The Government proposes that, where more than 10% of primary or secondary school pupils in an LEA are educated in GM schools, the LEA and the Funding Agency will both be under a duty to exercise their functions to the extent necessary to secure the provision of sufficient places for the relevant - primary or secondary - age group in that area.

3.19 There will likewise come a point at which the number of pupils in GM schools in the area of an LEA is such that it no longer makes sense for the LEA to seek to discharge such a duty at all. The Government proposes that, where 75% of primary or secondary pupils are educated at GM schools, the LEA will be relieved of its responsibility for securing sufficient places for the relevant age group. In some cases LEAs may decide they no longer wish to have this responsibility well before the 75% 'exit point' is reached. The legislation will enable an LEA to apply to the Secretary of State to be relieved of its duty in this respect at any point it chooses earlier than the 75% point

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Where the Secretary of State accedes to that request, the Funding Agency will assume sole responsibility for securing sufficient school places for the relevant age group across the whole LEA. These arrangements are set out in more detail in chapter 4.

Disposal of Assets of GM Schools

3.20 In general under the Education Reform Act 1988, when a GM school closes, its assets are redistributed to those bodies that invested in the school. In the case of a discontinued ex-county GM school, usually the property returns to the LEA. It is proposed that this practice should continue up to the 10% entry point. However, from the 10% entry point the Funding Agency will share responsibility for securing sufficient school places in an LEA area and have the power to establish new G M schools. It might not then be appropriate for all the property and proceeds to be returned to the LEA. The legislation will ensure that, once the 10% point has been reached, a proportion of the proceeds of a discontinued ex-county GM school will go to central government, where appropriate. The arrangement will allow for a fair allocation of the proceeds between local and central government.

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  • The Government is determined that the number of surplus places in schools should be reduced and the resources released for redeployment
  • The Funding Agency for Schools and LEAs will have a duty to keep under review the supply of places and to report annually to the Secretary of State
  • The Funding Agency and LEAs will have powers to propose the rationalisation of schools
  • The Secretary of State will have a power to direct LEAs and the Funding Agency to publish proposals to rationalise schools
  • There will be a new public inquiry system where the Secretary of State decides to put forward his own alternative proposals. The power of final decision will remain with the Secretary of State
  • Voluntary bodies will be able to propose the establishment of new GM schools


4.1 The organisation of schools in an area must secure the optimum balance between choice, diversity and the effective use of resources. It is imperative that the money available is spent on pupils and not on unnecessary buildings. Thriving, popular schools present no problem - except of capacity. Where a school is failing, pupil numbers will fall, it will be difficult to attract and retain good quality teachers and the costs of maintaining the premises and disproportionate staffing costs will place an unacceptable burden on the school's budget. For these reasons, the school will not be able to achieve the high educational standards desired for all pupils. It is wrong to allow this to continue.

4.2 The solution is to remove surplus places and close surplus schools. However, doing so is rarely popular and requires considerable political and administrative will. The efforts of some LEAs in this field deserve to be applauded. But despite such efforts far too many surplus places - up to 1.5 million - still remain. It is clearly not practicable to eliminate all surplus places, but such a substantial number of places represents a significant and unacceptable waste of resources.

4.3 The Government therefore proposes, within the new framework of responsibilities described in chapter 3, to change the law governing the organisation of schools so as to secure a more effective use of resources. It intends that:

  • LEAs, and the Funding Agency from the 10% entry point (see paragraphs 3.18-3.19), will be under a duty to review and report to the Secretary of State annually on the supply of places in their respective sectors having regard to need, parental choice and value for money. Together with regular inspection reports on individual schools, this will be a means of identifying systematically those unpopular or otherwise unviable schools where there is a case for rationalisation. LEAs will be placed under a duty to collect the relevant demographic and related information to enable both the Funding Agency and themselves to fulfil these duties;

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  • LEAs will have, in addition to their existing powers to propose the closure of a voluntary school, a new power to propose the change of character, age-range or significant enlargement, but not religious character, of a voluntary school;
  • the Funding Agency, from the 10% entry point, will be able to propose the rationalisation of GM schools, including the expansion of popular schools perhaps taking over the premises of a failing school, and operating on two sites, as some schools now do. The Secretary of State will have a new power of direction requiring the Funding Agency or an LEA, or both, to bring forward rationalisation proposals against specific criteria and within a specified timescale;
  • where the Secretary of State has issued a direction, he will be able to bring forward his own proposals to set alongside those of LEAs and of the Funding Agency, if he judges it necessary; and
  • in cases where he brings forward his own proposals, the Secretary of State will be under a duty to arrange for a local public inquiry. The inspector conducting the inquiry will then make recommendations on the merits of the Secretary of State's proposals and the other proposals before him. The Secretary of State will take the final decision (see paragraphs 4.14-4.16).
4.4 The Secretary of Stale has already carried out a detailed assessment of the capacity of the school system. He will be consulting individual LEAs and others in order to determine as accurate a picture as possible of where surplus places could sensibly be removed.

Powers of Local Education Authorities

4.5 Until the 75% exit point is reached. LEAs will continue as now to be able to propose the establishment, closure, significant enlargement or change of character of county schools, and the closure of voluntary schools, whether aided, special agreement, or controlled. In order to secure efficient planning in relation to both voluntary and county schools, LEAs will have a new power to propose the change of character - for instance, age-range or significant enlargement, but not the religious character - of a voluntary school. This is to ensure that an LEA can make sensible, comprehensive proposals concerning all its schools - essential if the most rational and efficient use of resources is to be achieved. Before bringing forward such proposals, the LEA will be obliged to consult those who have an interest in them. It will also have the power to contribute to expenditure at aided schools on those items which are the responsibility of the governors; and a duty to meet any such expenditure which may occur as a result of LEA proposals, which, if approved, would attract cover under the system for sanctioning local authority borrowing to fund capital projects.

4.6 Once the 75% exit point is reached, LEAs will be able to propose the establishment of a new school only where this forms part of a larger proposal for the reorganisation of schools, including proposals to close other schools which it will replace. This restriction does not apply to special schools (see chapter 9).

Powers of the Funding Agency for Schools

4.7 From the 10% entry point, the Funding Agency (and voluntary bodies, see paragraphs 4.10-4.12) will be able to bring forward proposals for the establishment of new GM schools. After consultation with the GM schools concerned, the Funding Agency will

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also be able to propose the closure, enlargement or significant change of character of existing GM schools. But the Funding Agency will not be able to propose a change in the religious character of a school under any circumstances.

4.8 There may be circumstances where, as a result of population increases, extra school places are needed in an area but not in such number as to require the significant enlargement of an existing school or the establishment of a new one, and where local GM schools are not willing to expand. From the 10% entry point, the Funding Agency will be able, following consultation with the governing body which will have a right of appeal to the Secretary of State, to direct a GM school to increase its capacity so long as the increase is not a significant one requiring statutory proposals. In such circumstances, the Funding Agency will be required to meet the capital costs of the enlargement.

Powers of Governing Bodies of GM Schools

4.9 Statutory proposals published by the governing body of a GM school significantly to enlarge or change the character of its school, or to discontinue the school, will continue to be determined by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will consider all such proposals on their merits, having regard in particular to the effects of the proposals on the quality of education in the area; the impact on parental choice; and the financial implications of the proposals. He will also take into account any objections submitted following the publication of such proposals.

Voluntary Schools and Setting up New GM Schools in Response to Local Demand

4.10 The governors of voluntary schools will continue to have the power to propose the enlargement or significant change of character of their schools, or to give two years' notice of their intention to close the school. Section 59 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, which enables the governors to propose the closure of their school when linked to plans to reorganise 16-19 provision in the area, will also continue to apply.

4.11 Until the 75% exit point is reached, or the Secretary of State has agreed to the LEA's request to be relieved of its duty to provide sufficient schools, voluntary bodies will continue to be able to propose the establishment of new LEA maintained voluntary schools. In addition, once the 10% entry point is reached, they will also be able to propose the establishment of new GM schools. The interests of the foundation will be protected at such schools by virtue of there being a majority of foundation governors. Where there are new capital costs, voluntary bodies or other promoters wishing to establish a new GM school will need to provide 15% of such costs. Once the school is established, however, it will be funded as to both recurrent and capital expenditures on the same basis as other GM schools. Existing voluntary aided schools in the LEA sector will continue to attract grant at up to 85% for capital and external repairs, as now. All proposals for the establishment of new schools brought forward by voluntary bodies will fall to the Secretary of State to decide.

4.12 The Secretary of State intends to give high priority to the removal of surplus school places and will deploy his new powers vigorously to that end. That will help to create opportunities for new GM schools to be created in response to parental demand and on the basis of local proposals.

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Powers of the Secretary of State

4.13 The Secretary of State will have a power to direct the Funding Agency or the LEA or both to bring forward proposals for rationalising their respective stocks of schools against specific criteria, and within a specific timescale. Where the Secretary of State issues directions, he will have the discretion to put forward proposals of his own to set alongside those brought forward by the Funding Agency and/or LEA, if he judges it appropriate. In these circumstances he will be obliged to remit consideration of all proposals, including his own, to a local public inquiry. He will also forward to the public inquiry any separate, individual proposals that may have been published by the governing bodies of the schools involved.

Public Inquiry Procedure

4.14 The Secretary of State's proposals will be published and notified to interested parties locally in the same way as other statutory proposals, with a period of one month for objections to be submitted to the inspector appointed to carry out the inquiry. The Funding Agency or LEA as appropriate will also have the right to submit objections.

4.15 Inquiries will be conducted by an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. Inspectors will be required to consider all proposals, through the standard public inquiry procedures, and report to the Secretary of State. Inspectors will have to take as their starting point the criteria for the proposals set out by the Secretary of State. They will examine the rationale for the proposals published by the Funding Agency or LEA and by the Secretary of State and the views of objectors and parents, as well as considering any proposals published by the governing bodies of the schools in the area covered by the Secretary of State's direction.

4.16 The Secretary of State will consider the inspector's report before deciding whether or not to approve the proposals which have been the subject of the inquiry. Inspectors' reports will be published.


4.17 It will be important that consultation is properly conducted with the various bodies who have an interest in proposals for rationalisation brought forward by the Funding Agency or LEAs. Consultation on 16-18 education will in particular need to involve the Further Education Funding Council with which rests the statutory duty to provide for this age group. The Government will provide guidance setting out how consultation should be conducted, to ensure that when proposals are drawn up the views of all those with an interest in the proposals are considered.

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  • The Government will ensure that the arrangements for school admissions work smoothly and secure the maximum parental choice possible
  • The principal responsibility for arranging school admissions and enforcing attendance will be exercised increasingly at the school level
  • LEAs will continue to have final responsibility to ensure that all children attend school or are otherwise suitably educated
  • GM schools and LEAs will be encouraged to co-operate on admissions. The Secretary of State will have a reserve power to impose common procedures, and to arrange joint admissions information, if necessary
  • LEAs will have a reserve power to direct any LEA maintained or GM school to take a pupil who has not found a place. A GM school will have a right of appeal to the Secretary of State
  • LEAs will be placed under a new duty to provide education otherwise than at school for those pupils who need it


5.1 Parents have been given by the Government the right to express a preference as to where they would like their children to go to school. Generally, that preference must be met unless the school is full of pupils with a stronger claim. Parents also have a duty to make sure that their children attend school regularly between the ages of five and 16 or are suitably educated otherwise.

5.2 The principal responsibility for arranging school admissions and enforcing attendance rests at present with LEAs. In the Government's view, it is right that schools should take a greater responsibility for these aspects of school management. GM schools, like voluntary aided schools, already have responsibility for their own admissions. All schools should have clear policies and plans to reduce unauthorised absence. But there will need to be arrangements of last resort to make sure parents and schools meet their obligations. The nature of such arrangements will vary according to the number of GM schools in an area.

School Admissions

5.3 All maintained schools must have published admissions policies which are fair and reasonable and give parents as clear an idea as possible of their chances of securing admission for their child. GM schools may make changes to their admission policies with the approval of the Secretary of State. If they wish to make changes which would lead to a significant change in the school's character, however, such as changes in age-range or the introduction of selection, they must publish proposals under section 89 of the Education Reform Act 1988.

5.4 GM schools will continue to be obliged to admit pupils up to an admission number approved by the Secretary of State when they become grant-maintained: such admission numbers reflect the physical capacity of the school. They can admit pupils beyond this number if they wish. However, to ensure, for example, that additional capacity is reflected in the admission number, the Secretary of State will have the power to vary the admission number when there has been a change in the circumstances of the school.

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5.5 As the number of GM schools rises, parents will increasingly be able to apply for places for their children at one or more GM schools, at the same time as expressing a preference among LEA schools. It is the Government's view that in these circumstances the schools, and the LEA where appropriate, should consider whether joint arrangements to co-ordinate admissions would help reduce delay and uncertainty for parents. The extent and nature of such co-ordination will vary according to local circumstances, and are therefore best left in the first instance to LEAs and schools themselves to decide. Voluntary arrangements are expected to be operating in several areas of the country for September 1993 admissions. The Government will monitor these arrangements and will issue advice to LEAs and schools to help them in considering possible arrangements for their areas.

5.6 It is the Government's hope and clear expectation that such co-ordinated arrangements will be established by voluntary agreement in most instances. However, there may be occasions where those concerned cannot agree. It is proposed, therefore, that where agreement is not possible the Secretary of State should have a reserve power to direct the joint arrangements to be adopted by the GM schools and the LEA concerned.

5.7 These arrangements will generally ensure that parents receive information on a common basis about the admission arrangements at all the schools in their area. The Secretary of State will also take a reserve power, however, to ensure that this is the case even where joint admission arrangements do not operate. Measures will also be taken to ensure that literature about secondary GM schools is distributed through primary schools on the same basis as literature about LEA maintained secondary schools.

Ensuring School Attendance

5.8 Good schools regard maximising school attendance as one of their key tasks. From this autumn, all maintained schools will have to publish their record of unauthorised pupil absence in their prospectuses and annual reports. From 1993 this information will be included in performance tables published locally in respect of all schools. These will be powerful inducements to all schools with poor attendance records to do better.

5.9 However, there will be cases when the school at which the pupil is registered (ails to secure regular attendance, as well as cases where children are not registered at any school - including children whose parents wish to educate them at home. The LEA will continue to be best placed to liaise with social services departments over some of the causes of persistent truancy, and to make educational judgements about alternatives to school education. LEAs will therefore continue to have the duty to enforce school attendance by serving School Attendance Orders, seeking Education Supervision Orders, and taking cases to court where necessary.

5.10 Parents will continue to have the same rights in respect of school attendance proceedings as they were given under the Education Act 1980. That Act requires LEAs to obtain the consent of the governors of an aided or special agreement school before naming it in an order. In future, following consultation with the governing body which will have the right of appeal to the Secretary of Stale, the LEA will have the

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right to require a school - whether GM or LEA maintained, including voluntary aided and special agreement schools:" to accept a pupil named in a School Attendance Order.

5.11 There may also be very fare occasions when parents have made every effort to meet their obligation to send their child to school, but the child has been refused admission to, or been permanently excluded from, all accessible schools. At present, the LEA is the admissions authority for most schools in an area and can therefore arrange a suitable place. But if all accessible schools are GM, arrangements will be needed to require a school to take the child. It is proposed that, after consultation with the governing body which will have a right of appeal to the Secretary of State, the LEA should have the power to direct any maintained school to take a child who would otherwise be without a place. This power in relation to both GM and LEA maintained schools, will pass to the Funding Agency at the 75% exit point. This power of direction will not extend so as to override the arrangements for preserving the selective or denominational character of the school.

5.12 Where the head teacher of a GM school, while complying with a direction to admit a pupil, takes the view that the pupil has special educational needs warranting assessment under the Education Act 1981, the LEA will have a duty to carry out an assessment. If - in this or any other assessment case - the LEA considers that a statement of special educational needs is necessary, the parents will be able to express a preference for the GM or LEA maintained school to be named in the statement, and the LEA will have to comply with that preference provided that certain conditions were met. The named school will then be under a duty to accept the pupil (see paragraph 9.3).

Education Otherwise than at School

5.13 At present, LEAs have a power in special circumstances to provide education for children otherwise than at school - typically in hospital, or by way of home tutors. These powers are linked to LEAs' powers and duties in respect of school attendance. The Government will expect LEAs to continue to make appropriate provision for such pupils. Accordingly, it is proposed that LEAs, instead of having a power to make such provision, should be placed under a duty to provide education otherwise than at school where necessary to meet a pupil's needs.

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  • The increasing number of GM schools will mean that the role of LEA will change over time
  • The Government will require LEAs to increase delegation to their schools under their schemes of local management
  • LEAs will be able to supply support services to GM schools on competitive terms
  • The Government will maintain and strengthen the partnership between the state and the Churches and other voluntary bodies in both LEA maintained and GM schools

6.1 This chapter describes how the Government envisages the development of the maintained school system overall, and the place within it for voluntary schools.

Local Education Authority Functions

6.2 LEAs will retain certain responsibilities for all pupils in their areas: for special education and statementing; and for certain other pupil specific and support services, as described in chapters 5 and 9. They may also have continuing responsibility for maintaining a number of primary, secondary and special schools if parents decide not to vote for GM status: this will be more true of some LEAs than others. Those schools which choose to remain with their LEAs will continue, as now, to be subject to the provisions of local management of schools legislation, the frontiers of which the Government intends to push forward as far as possible.

6.3 Under present arrangements, LEAs may still hold back and deploy substantial resources centrally in respect of schools which they maintain. For April 1993, the requirement is that 85% of the potential schools' budget should be delegated to schools and that 80% of the sums delegated should be allocated by reference to pupil numbers, weighted for age and to some extent for special educational needs. Many LEAs have already met these targets. It is the Government's intention to continue to press for even greater delegation, along with further simplification of LEAs' allocation formulae.

6.4 Some LEAs are already considering maximum delegation of budgets to their schools, while continuing to offer support to these schools on the basis of service agreements. The Government would like to see more LEAs consider the benefits of this approach as they undertake the required three- year review of their schemes of local management. The Department will offer more detailed guidance on the framework it considers to be appropriate for schemes from April 1994.

6.5 Other, wider changes are also likely to affect LEAs. The current review of the structure of local government will have a bearing on the way LEAs exercise their functions. In general, as the number of GM schools increases, local authorities will need to consider carefully the most effective way of delivering their continuing responsibilities for education in the light of their particular circumstances. At present there are statutory obstacles which deny local authorities the organisational flexibil-

[page 32]

ity which they need to respond properly to the evolution of their education functions. The Government proposes to remove such obstacles, in particular the requirement to establish an Education Committee. Some local authorities may soon be in sight of no longer needing them.

6.6 LEAs will continue to have functions with respect to pupils with special educational needs [see chapter 9). The Government believes that for the time being LEAs should continue to be responsible for certain other pupil related services. LEAs will therefore remain responsible for the provision, where necessary, of board and lodging and clothing, for educational psychology and welfare services and for home to school transport - with a clear requirement to expose this last service to competition, including from the private sector, where it is provided directly by the LEA.

6.7 LEAs offer a range of educational advice, support and training services to their own schools and to others. They also provide museums, the school library service and peripatetic music teaching and other music activities. Some GM schools may choose to continue to buy such educational services from their former maintaining or a neighbouring LEA. But an LEA is not permitted to retain staff and operate any services which go beyond what it requires for the efficient exercise of its own functions within its own area. LEAs may only trade at the margin of capacity.

6.8 The Government expects that increasingly the private sector will step in to provide such services. Some local authorities are moving to establish trusts to undertake the organisation and delivery of services like individual music teaching. But the Government recognises that there are likely to be some transitional difficulties, particularly outside urban areas. The Government proposes that legislation shall allow the Secretary of State to designate LEA areas within which that or a neighbouring LEA will be permitted to provide services to GM schools, even where this means that the LEA employs additional staff or incurs additional expenditure which they would not otherwise have to do, for a period of two years only. The Secretary of State will withdraw such designation after due notice, as and when appropriate private sector suppliers of services emerge in the designated areas.

Voluntary Schools

6.9 The Government continues to attach great importance to the dual system of county and voluntary schools which stems from the Education Act 1944 and the religious settlement which underpins it. The contribution of voluntary schools provided by the Churches and others cannot be overestimated. They are popular with parents, and enhance choice. They provide powerful reinforcement of the spiritual and moral dimension of education which is of great importance to children.

6.10 The Government wishes to see the role of the Churches and other voluntary bodies in education preserved and enhanced. It looks to them to playa positive part in the further development of GM schools. Many voluntary schools have already chosen or are contemplating GM status. GM status builds upon the existing freedoms available to voluntary aided schools. In particular, the governors of ex-voluntary aided GM schools are not liable for a 15% contribution to capital and external repair costs. The position of the foundation is guaranteed by the foundation governors' having a majority on the governing body. The established character and ethos of the school is thus protected. Voluntary schools, therefore, have a lot to gain by becoming grant-maintained.

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  • The Government will introduce measures to ease the transition of schools to GM status
  • There will be no second resolution of the governing body before a school proceeds to a parental ballot on GM status
  • LEA expenditure on publishing information about a GM ballot will be limited
  • The prospective governing body of a GM school will have a new power of access to the school
  • A school applying for GM status will be able simultaneously to propose a significant change in its character or size, where this is necessary to bring the school into line with proposals published concurrently by the LEA
  • GM schools will be given the power to provide part-time as well as full-time nursery education
  • The minimum size of a GM primary school governing body will be reduced from I 5 to I I members
  • The Education Assets Board will have strengthened powers to settle disputes between governing bodies and LEAs in order to speed up the transfer of assets to an approved GM school
  • The provisions to prevent LEAs removing assets from schools approved for GM status will be strengthened

7.1 The Education Reform Act 1988 establishes the right of parents to choose, in a secret ballot, whether their child's school should apply to transfer out of the control of the LEA and become grant-maintained. Across the country parents of children in maintained schools are increasingly exercising that right. Turnout in ballots has been high - in three-quarters of cases it has exceeded 60%.

7.2 The Education Reform Act 1988 also puts in place arrangements to ensure that schools enjoy an orderly transition to GM status. Once an application for GM status is approved, the prospective GM governing body assumes transitional powers and is eligible for financial support to prepare the school for its new responsibility. The GM governing body must work alongside the existing [county or voluntary school) governing body but very often there is substantial overlapping membership. Increasingly, many schools are finding that they can manage this transition process in a matter of weeks rather than months. The Grant-Maintained Schools Centre fulfils an important role in offering help and advice to schools after they have been approved for GM status.

7.3 For the most part the arrangements under the Education Reform Act 1988 for balloting and for the transition to GM status have worked well. The Government sees no reason to alter the basic procedural arrangements which allow schools to move to GM status as and when they are ready. But in the light of experience, the Government intends to introduce measures to simplify the tasks of governing bodies in deciding to

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go to ballot and in organising-ballots and to give governing bodies added protection against those LEAs - a minority - which seek to use their powers and influence to obstruct schools in the process of seeking GM status.

Abolition of the Second Governors' Resolution

7.4 Present arrangements require two resolutions of a governing body before the school may proceed to a parental ballot. It has become clear that the second resolution causes avoidable delay and can be burdensome. It is, in any case, the ballot which offers all concerned and particularly parents, who have the major interest, a full opportunity to make their views known. Accordingly, the Government intends to amend the legislation so as to eliminate the second resolution.

Limiting LEA Expenditure on Campaigns

7.5 The process of balloting for GM status is becoming common in LEAs across the country. Already over 10% of secondary schools have balloted or are committed to a ballot on GM status. Most LEAs have been working co-operatively with their schools as those schools pursue the GM option.

7.6 However, in a small number of cases, schools have faced great hostility from LEAs who have used their considerably greater resources to try to undermine governing bodies' attempts to inform parents properly about the GM option. The Government intends to restore the balance by introducing measures similar to those contained in The Self-Governing Schools [Scotland] Act 1989, to enable the Secretary of State to pay a governing body sums in respect of expenses incurred in promoting the acquisition of GM status. LEA expenditure in any financial year on publishing information about a ballot will be limited, and calculated on a consistent basis, so that both the governing body and the LEA will each be able to produce and distribute the equivalent of one leaflet to parents. LEAs will continue to be under an obligation in line with the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity (DOE Circular 20/88), to be 'objective, balanced, informative and accurate'. This will allow an informed debate on the educational issues involved and give the opportunity to all parents to reach a considered view about whether GM status is right for their child's school.

Underwriting School Legal Expenses

7.7 At present, governing bodies of schools seeking to obtain GM status may be liable for the legal expenses incurred in respect of any legal proceedings arising out of holding a ballot or publishing proposals for GM status. It is necessary to ensure that governing bodies are not out of pocket if they have acted in good faith but have made a procedural or technical error when arranging the details of the ballot or in their published proposals. The Government therefore proposes that the Secretary of State should be given the power to pay the reasonable legal costs of governing bodies.

Greater Choice

7.8 Under the Education Reform Act 1988, a school seeking the approval of the Secretary of State to its application for G M stat us may not at the same time propose to change its character or significantly to enlarge its premises. Only when the school has achieved GM status may the governing body, after consultation locally, publish significant

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change of character or enlargement proposals. This restriction was placed on those schools seeking to become grant-maintained to ensure that parental ballots concentrated on the single issue of GM status.

7.9 Where a school has published proposals for GM status at the same time as its LEA has published proposals to reorganise its schools, experience has shown that there may be sensible operational reasons for the school to combine its proposal for GM status with one for a significant change of character or significant enlargement in order to change the age-range or size of the school. The Government therefore proposes that, in these limited circumstances, prospective GM schools should be allowed to publish simultaneous proposals to make a significant change in the character of the school or a significant enlargement. It would be open to the Secretary of State to reject the proposals relating to the change of character or significant enlargement of the school while approving the application for GM status.

Access to Schools

7.10 Once a school's proposals for GM status have been approved, the prospective governing body has to begin work on preparing the school for its new status. In order to achieve this effectively, the governors need reasonable access to the school premises and records. In the majority of cases this has not proved to be a problem. On occasion, however, prospective governing bodies have met with undesirable obstruction which has severely hampered their legitimate work. The Government intends to amend the Education Reform Act 1988, in order to give to the prospective governing bodies of GM schools and those authorised by them an unequivocal right of access to the school at reasonable times and in reasonable circumstances.

Nursery Education

7.11 In law, primary education, as well as meaning education for children from five to eleven years, includes full-time nursery education. GM schools are free to continue to provide full-time education for under fives on becoming GM or to publish statutory proposals to change the age-range of their school if they wish to commence providing such education. But at present a GM school may provide part-time nursery education (which does not count as primary education) only as an agent of the LEA. The Government will legislate to remove this anomaly and to allow GM schools to continue to provide such education or to publish, as necessary, statutory proposals for a significant change of character where they wish to provide such education. A GM school will be free to use its annual maintenance grant for this purpose, but its grant would not be increased to take account of part-time nursery pupils. Nor can its annual maintenance grant be used for any after-hours or holiday care schemes that take place at the school. LEAs will remain free to contract with a GM school to provide part-time nursery education.

Helping Grant-maintained Primary Schools

7.12 The Government wishes to encourage smaller primary schools to seek the benefits of GM status. Its proposals for 'clusters' [see chapter 12) should prove attractive in this context. The Government also intends to legislate to bring the minimum size of a GM primary school governing body from 15 down to 11, comprising three parents, one teacher governor, the head teacher and six first or foundation governors.

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More Efficient Transfer of Assets

7.13 On incorporation, the property, rights and liabilities of a school approved for GM status transfer from the LEA to the governing body of the new GM school. The Education Assets Board is responsible for identifying with the LEA what assets are to transfer. This has not always proved straightforward. Currently the Board acts on behalf of the governing body of the school and attempts to negotiate an agreement with the LEA. It has no powers to determine what property is to transfer. In a number of cases there have been disputes between LEAs and schools and lengthy delays in reaching agreement. The Government considers that it would be in the interests of the schools to speed up what have, in some cases, become distracting and protracted negotiations. It therefore intends to give the Board greater powers, along the lines now introduced by the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 in relation to further education, to resolve disputes between LEAs and schools. These powers will include the ability to make determinations after a period of fact-finding and an opportunity for the parties to agree. Both schools and LEAs will have the right of appeal to the Secretary of State. The Government will set out in regulations a standard timetable for the Board, schools and LEAs to follow.

7.14 The forthcoming legislation will also require the LEA to seek the permission of the Secretary of State as well as the existing governing body, in respect of any disposal or transfer from a school applying to become GM. After a school has been approved for GM status, the LEA will need to seek the permission of the prospective governing body and the Secretary of State for any disposal or transfer, except where the value of the property in question is less than £6,000, where only the consent of the prospective governing body will be required.

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  • The Government will continue to emphasise the importance of the school's role in promoting pupils' spiritual and moral development through its teaching and pastoral care
  • LEAs that have not already done so will be required to review agreed syllabuses for religious education
  • GM schools will be able to use any agreed syllabus adopted since the Education Reform Act 1988
  • The constitution of agreed syllabus conferences and SACREs will be amended to allow for separate committees for GM schools, once 75% of either primary or secondary pupils in the LEA are in GM schools

8.1 This chapter considers the place of the moral and spiritual dimension in school education. It sets out for consultation proposals for legislation to:

  • give further impetus to the development of religious education in schools;
  • change the arrangements governing the religious education syllabus to be followed in GM schools; and
  • change the constitution of the local bodies responsible for advising on religious education and collective worship.
8.2 Proper regard should continue to be paid to the nation's Christian heritage and traditions in the context of both the religious education and collective worship provided in schools. The Education Reform Act 1988 offers a framework in relation to collective worship which reflects primarily that tradition, while offering opportunities for the worship of other faiths in a context of mutual understanding and respect.

8.3 Education cannot and must not be value-free. Recognising this, the Education Reform Act 1988 requires the school curriculum to promote the spiritual, moral and cultural, as well as the mental and physical, development of pupils and society. At the heart of every school's educational and pastoral policy and practice should lie a set of shared values which is promoted through the curriculum, through expectations governing the behaviour of pupils and staff and through day to day contact between them. Every attempt should be made to ensure that these values are endorsed by parents and the local community. The great majority of schools already pay considerable attention to this aspect of their role and are to be congratulated on this.

8.4 The importance of the statutory requirements on the curriculum in the Education Reform Act 1988 is emphasised in the Education [Schools] Act 1992, which places duties on Her Majesty's Chief Inspector to keep the Secretary of Slate informed about the quality of education, and specifically about the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils. Similarly, the Act requires the new registered inspectors to report on these aspects as part of the regular inspection of all schools.

8.5 Religious education and collective worship playa major part in promoting the spiritual and moral dimension in schools. Since the Education Reform Act 1988, many local authorities have reviewed their agreed syllabuses for religious education

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in the light of the Act's new requirements. Local Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACREs), required in every LEA for the first time under the Act, have been active in developing religious education and worship in their areas. The Government has no plans to change the law as to the content and nature of religious education and collective worship in schools. It believes, however, that there is a need to give further impetus to the development of religious education in schools. It also believes that in the light of the changing responsibilities, structure and organisation of schools, changes will be required to the arrangements that determine the religious education syllabus to be followed in GM schools, and to the constitution of the local bodies which advise on these aspects of the curriculum. The following paragraphs summarise the Government's proposals, which will be set out in a consultation document to be issued shortly.

LEAs' Review of Agreed Syllabuses

8.6 While around a third of LEAs have revised or are in the process of revising their agreed syllabuses for religious education in the light of the new requirements of the Education Reform Act 1988, many have not yet chosen to do so. The review of agreed syllabuses is a major impetus for curriculum development in religious education. In order to promote further development, the Government proposes that all LEAs that have not already done so should be required, within a specified period, to review their agreed syllabus in the light of the requirements of the Education Reform Act 1988.

8.7 GM schools which were former county schools are at present required to follow the agreed syllabus for religious education adopted by the LEA in which they are located. Former voluntary controlled schools are similarly required to follow this syllabus, except in particular circumstances where parents request that religious education is provided in accordance with the school's Trust Deed or according to the practice of the school before it became controlled. The religious education provided at other GM schools is generally determined by the school's Trust Deed.

8.8 The Government proposes that the duty on LEAs to adopt an agreed syllabus should remain unchanged. However, it proposes that any GM school which is currently required to teach the agreed syllabus adopted by the LEA in whose area it lies, should in future have the option of choosing to use any agreed syllabus, provided that such a syllabus has been adopted following the introduction of the Education Reform Act 1988. This proposal reflects the Government's wish that GM schools should have maximum autonomy.

Constitution of Agreed Syllabus Conferences and SACREs

8.9 The agreed syllabus conference, which recommends the agreed syllabus for religious education to the LEA, and the SACRE, which has a duty to advise the authority on religious education and collective worship, are the two local bodies responsible for the development of religious education and collective worship in schools. They are constituted under statute to include committees representing the Church of England [except in Wales); other denominations and faiths; the local teacher associations; and the LEA. Additionally, GM schools in the area of an LEA are collectively entitled to send one representative to the SACRE in their LEA.

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8.10 The Government considers that changes in the constitution and operation of SACREs and agreed syllabus conferences would be appropriate as the proportion of pupils in attendance at GM schools increases. Therefore, at the point when 75% of either the primary or the secondary pupils in an area are attending GM schools, or where the Secretary of State has agreed to a request by an LEA that it should be relieved of its duty to secure sufficient school places in respect of either the primary or secondary phase, the Government proposes that the constitution of agreed syllabus conferences and SACREs should be amended. At that point an additional, separate committee would be appointed to each of these bodies to represent those GM schools in the area which are required to teach religious education according to an agreed syllabus.

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  • The Government remains committed to the principle that pupils with special educational needs (SEN) should be educated in ordinary schools to the maximum extent possible
  • LEAs will retain their responsibilities for assessments and statements of SEN under the Education Act 1981
  • Any maintained school named in an SEN statement will be required to admit the child
  • The LEA and the Funding Agency will, from the 10% entry point, share the duty to secure sufficient places in the area for pupils with statements
  • The Secretary of State will have a power to make regulations to enable special schools to apply for GM status
  • The Secretary of State will have a power to require LEAs or the Funding Agency to bring forward proposals for the rationalisation of special schools. The Secretary of State will also have a power to put forward his own proposals and the alternative sets of proposals will be remitted to a public inquiry

9.1 The Education Act 1981 is one of the important landmarks of education legislation this century. The Government remains firmly committed to the general principles enshrined in that Act - the emphasis on the needs of the individual child; the duty on LEAs to identify, assess and provide for special educational needs; the right of parents to be involved in that process as partners; the requirement that pupils with SEN should be educated alongside their peers in ordinary schools to the maximum extent practicable; and the need for current arrangements to be kept under review so that provision remains sensitive and responsive to individual children's needs and parental wishes.

Review of the Education Act 1981

9.2 The Government has recognised, however, that there are widespread concerns about the way in which the Education Act 1981 is working, particularly in respect of parents' access to the present arrangements for assessments, statements and appeals. The Government has, therefore, undertaken a fundamental review of the provisions of the Education Act 1981 which deal with these issues and of the supporting Education (Special Educational Needs) Regulations 1983, as amended. The Minister of State announced on 11 June in the House of Lords that the Government has decided to bring forward proposals to improve access to the present arrangements for assessment and statements, to give parents the right to express a preference for their child's school, and to provide for a coherent and comprehensive set of rights of appeals for parents who were not satisfied with the decisions made by LEAs.

9.3 The Government's proposals were set out in a consultation document published on 15 July 1992 (Special Educational Needs, Access to the System, DFE, 1992). In brief, the proposals:

  • provide for improved access to the present arrangements for assessments and

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    statements for children with special educational needs, through the provision of statutory time limits which would be set out in regulations prescribing the procedures for the conduct of assessments and making of statements;
  • enable the Secretary of State to provide through regulations for more flexible assessment arrangements and for the prescribed format and content of statements to be varied so as to take account of other aspects of special educational provision than are now required;
  • give parents the right to express a preference for a particular ordinary or special maintained school for their child;
  • require the LEA to meet the parents' preference, after consultation with the school or schools concerned and provided that certain conditions were met in respect of the suitability of the school for the child: the provision of efficient education for his or her peers, and the wise use of resources, even where the school's standard number had not been reached;
  • provide for extended rights of appeal for parents who are not satisfied with decisions made by LEAs, particularly in respect of an LEA's refusal to assess or reassess a child, against the school named in a statement and against an LEA's decision to cease to maintain a statement; and
  • provide for the establishment of a tribunal to determine all appeals under the Education Act 1981, in place of the present arrangements for appeals to appeal committees, constituted under the provisions of the Education Act 1980, and appeals to the Secretary of State.
9.4 In addition, the Government proposes that LEAs should no longer be specifically required to give their consent to parents who wish to remove their child from a special school named in a statement. In making alternative arrangements, parents retain their duty under section 36 of the Education Act 1944 to ensure that the education their child receives is suitable to any special educational needs he may have.

Pupils with Statements of Special Educational Needs

9.5 LEAs will retain responsibility for identifying and assessing pupils with SEN, making statements and arranging for their special educational provision, including placements, reviews of statements and re-assessments.

9.6 Currently, except where a direction is made to that effect by the Secretary of State, there is no requirement on a school named in a statement of special educational needs to admit the child concerned. It is proposed that the forthcoming legislation should provide that where, following consultation, a maintained school is named by an LEA in a statement, or substituted by virtue of a tribunal's determination of an appeal, the governing body and the LEA, in the case of an LEA school, or the governing body, in the case of a GM school, should be required to admit the child. Where an LEA intends to place a child in an independent school which is not approved under the Education [Special Educational Needs)(Approval of Independent Schools) Regulations 1991, it will no longer be required to seek the Secretary of State's prior consent. An LEA's present responsibilities for securing school attendance by pupils with statements of special educational needs will be amended so that where an

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LEA is serving a School Attendance Order in relation to such a pupil, it will name the school in the statement.

GM Status for Special Schools

9.7 All LEA maintained special schools will come under schemes of local management from April 1994. They will be funded on a formula basis and some of them will have delegated management. The Government believes it is in principle right that, once special schools have delegated management, they should be given the choice to ballot their parents on the case for GM status. The legislation will be extended to allow the Secretary of State to make regulations to permit such applications for GM status for special schools. Before the Secretary of State makes such regulations he will wish to be satisfied that there is a fair and effective basis for funding GM special schools.

Special Educational Provision

9.8 The powers and duties of the Funding Agency and LEAs for special educational provision will in general flow directly from their respective responsibilities for securing sufficient, suitable school places in an LEA area. The Government is concerned that any changes to local provision for SEN should be made on a consistent basis, and in a way which is compatible with the integration of pupils with SEN in ordinary schools.

9.9 From the 10% entry point, the Funding Agency and the LEA will discharge concurrently the duties to have regard to the need for securing special educational provision, and to ensure the maintenance of the necessary places for pupils with statements in the schools in the area. From that point, therefore, the Funding Agency will have the power to propose the establishment of a GM special school, as well as the enlargement or change of character of a GM ordinary school, to provide for pupils with SEN. These powers in relation to the provision of special education flow naturally from the powers in respect of ordinary primary and secondary schools set out in chapter 4. The Funding Agency and LEA will be required to consult each other and, as appropriate, the governors of GM schools before they make any such proposals. Even after the 75% exit point in respect of provision for other pupils has been passed, the concurrent duties in respect of pupils with statements will continue: and the LEA will retain its present powers in respect of its special schools.

9.10 The Secretary of State will have the power to issue a direction requiring the LEA or Funding Agency to bring forward proposals for the rationalisation of its special schools. Where the Secretary of State issues a direction, he will have the discretion to put forward proposals of his own to set alongside those brought forward by the LEA or Funding Agency, if he judges it necessary. He will in these circumstances be obliged to remit consideration of all proposals to a local public inquiry (for public inquiry procedures see paragraphs 4.14-4.16 above).

Grant-maintained Governing Bodies

9.11 Governing bodies of GM schools will retain their present responsibilities for securing appropriate provision for pupils with special educational needs. They will also be required to keep under review the special educational provision made by the school and to provide the LEA and the Funding Agency with relevant information.

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  • The Government wishes to promote much greater diversity and specialisation by schools, particularly in technology, while still ensuring that the full National Curriculum is offered to all pupils
  • The developing network of specialist Technology Schools, with CTCs at its centre, will be extended through the Technology Schools Initiative
  • LEA maintained and GM schools will be able to form partnerships to operate as GM and voluntary aided Technology Colleges with private sector persons or organisations, who will be entitled to formal representation on the governing body
  • LEAs will be able to contribute towards governors' capital costs at Technology Colleges and other voluntary aided schools

10.1 The demands of the new century will require schools which can adapt to the changing needs of their pupils, communities and the economy. To meet those needs, the Government will encourage a wider diversity of schools. All maintained schools will continue to teach the full range of National Curriculum subjects to the highest standards which their pupils are capable of achieving. That will not prevent some schools from choosing, within or beyond the National Curriculum, to develop special expertise in a particular subject area. In future the Government will be looking to achieve greater diversity, by encouraging, in addition to the National Curriculum, the formation of different types of schools and schools specialising in particular subjects, sometimes in partnership with business and industry. The Government wishes to see the creation of new schools and will be seeking to remove barriers that exist to their formation. Patterns of schools that reflect the priorities of local authority planners, should be complemented or replaced by schools that reflect more widely the wishes and aspirations of parents. Growing diversity in education will be one of the features of the 1990s.

Encouraging School Specialisation

10.2 Other leading industrialised nations combine the attainment of high standards with a measure of specialisation. Such specialisation does not mean selection, which implies choice by the school; instead it means increased choice for parents and pupils. The greater the choice, the greater the opportunity for children to go to schools which cater for their particular interests and aptitudes. That will bring greater commitment to the school by children and their parents - and so lead to a better education.

10.3 The development of specialisation in a particular curriculum area, such as science, music, modern languages or technology, will depend on the quality of teaching the school is able to offer and on the range of opportunities available for pupils to focus on that area. High quality, enthusiastic staff will be attracted to a school which has shown its commitment to excellence in their particular subject. Schools already have considerable scope for such developments.

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10.4 Opportunities for pupils to develop further their skills, knowledge and understanding within specialist areas of the curriculum can be created within formal teaching and learning or through extra-curricular activities. Within the curriculum, the Government has already introduced a significant element of flexibility at Key Stage 4 which can be used to promote specialisation. Many schools will also find that additional time can be created by re-examining the balance between time spent in formal teaching and other aspects of the school day, such as registration, breaks and supervised study. The variations in lesson time in school noted in Circular 7/90 jManagement of the School Day. DES, 1990) suggest that individual schools could find more time by an extension of the school day or year.

10.5 These approaches - in particular the use of a more flexible school day and year, and opportunities for extra curricular activities - have been a notable and popular feature of the development of City Technology Colleges (see paragraph 10.11 below). There is already a growing number of maintained schools which specialise in particular curriculum areas such as modern languages [including some which teach some subjects bilingually, for example, geography through the medium of French), business studies, music or the creative arts. The Government would wish to see many more schools seeking to do so. Such specialisation, underpinned by the National Curriculum, liberates the talents of pupils.

Sponsoring Specialisation

10.6 The Government is keen that the existing commitment of business and industry to schools should be reinforced and supported. It believes that sponsors can playa very positive role in helping schools to specialise in their preferred areas. Accordingly, the Government will amend the legislation on school governance to allow the appointment of a category of sponsor governor in voluntary aided and GM schools. The governing body of a voluntary aided or GM school seeking to make such appointments would need to seek the consent of the Secretary of State, citing in its application the financial and curricular benefits which the school would derive from such sponsorship.

10.7 The Government's first priority will be to continue to encourage specialisation in the teaching of technology, with particular emphasis on its vocational aspects, because it believes that the economic health of the country requires the vigorous promotion of technology in schools and the active involvement of private sector sponsors in that process. This chapter, therefore, concentrates on specialisation in technology, but the proposed legislation will be drawn widely enough to encourage more schools to specialise in other fields too. Innovation can and will come from fields other than technology.

Developing Technology Teaching

10.8 Great progress has been made over the last decade in changing deep-seated attitudes towards technology as somehow second best. The Government's Technical and Vocational Education Initiative, its support for information technology in schools and its promotion of industry/education links have all helped to break down the arts/technology divide. In 1990 the Government established technology as a foundation subject of the National Curriculum for all pupils from 5-16. Following advice from the National Curriculum Council, the Government has now commissioned Her

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Majesty's Inspectorate to carry out an early review of the technology Order, with a view to specifying more clearly the skills and knowledge which pupils should acquire at each stage, and to securing other improvements. No other western country has given such prominence to technology in the curriculum for all pupils of compulsory school age.

10.9 The Government's White Paper last year, Education and Training for the 21st Century (Cm 1536, HMSO, 1991), announced a range of further measures to secure parity of esteem between academic and vocational courses. The Government will be looking to secondary schools to offer pupils the vocationally-oriented courses now being developed by the awarding bodies, alongside traditional academic courses. Technology must be taught as a subject with clear practical objectives, and its vocational application is therefore as important as its academic grounding.

10.10 These measures - especially the introduction of technology as a central bridging element of the curriculum for all pupils - offer the opportunity to break down the divide between academic and vocational studies, and to equip young people with the technological skills essential to a successful economy.

City Technology Colleges

10.11 To spearhead this effort, the Government is establishing an expanding network of specialist schools. At the centre are the 15 City Technology Colleges. These CTCs have been established, in partnership with business, to implement an innovative curriculum with a particular emphasis on technology and science, aided by the widespread use of information technology, and to develop new school management practices. They are proving outstandingly popular with parents in the inner city areas they serve; and they are already demonstrating new ways of motivating and enhancing the performance of pupils of all abilities. The Government will continue to look to the CTC programme as an important means of stimulating innovation and excellence in education.

Technology Schools

10.12 Building on the work of the CTCs, the Government is now establishing, through its Technology Schools Initiative, a network of maintained secondary schools with enhanced technology facilities, and a commitment to providing courses with a strong vocational emphasis. One hundred secondary schools, both LEA maintained and GM, have been selected this year to become the first of this wider network of Technology Schools. While retaining their existing statutory character, and remaining committed to teaching the full National Curriculum, these schools have pledged themselves to becoming centres of excellence in technology teaching. Their progress in achieving these plans will be monitored through regular inspections under the auspices of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector. The Government has supported this initiative with capital allocations totalling £25 million in 1992-93, to fund additional equipment and building improvements to underpin the schools' curricular plans. This programme will be further extended in the years ahead, within the funds available for schools capital investment annually.

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Technology Colleges

10.13 The Government proposes to widen this network of CTCs and Technology Schools by encouraging the creation of Technology Colleges. Established in partnership with business sponsors, Technology Colleges will have the strong curricular emphasis of Technology Schools. In addition, like CTCs, they will enjoy a direct commitment from their business sponsors, leading to a more focused technology curriculum as well as other benefits. Business sponsors will be strongly represented on the governing bodies of Technology Colleges, and will playa direct role in their management. In return for up to four seats on the governing body, sponsors will be expected to make a substantial contribution to the initial and continuing capital costs of establishing the school as a Technology College; to offer their expertise and skills to enrich the College's curriculum; and to contribute in other ways, for example by offering work experience and other vocational opportunities.

10.14 Technology Colleges will offer a broad curriculum with an emphasis on science and technology, or on technology within other areas of the curriculum such as modern languages or business studies. Unlike CTCs, they will not be confined to urban areas.

10.15 The Government expects that most schools seeking to become Technology Colleges will want to do so as GM schools. It therefore proposes to enable any maintained school to apply to operate as a GM Technology College and appoint sponsor governors. In the case of LEA maintained schools, the arrangements will be similar to other applications for GM status, except that the proposals will need to include details of the arrangements for sponsorship and the number of seats on the governing body to be allocated to sponsors. Such details will form part of the information available to parents when they vote. In the same way, schools can apply to operate as GM language or creative arts colleges, for example.

10.16 An existing GM school will also be able to become a GM Technology College, and to seek a funding contribution from the Secretary of State and private sponsors towards the costs. The governors of the school will need to put proposals to the Secretary of State covering the school's curriculum development plan, financial plans including sponsorship, and the proposed composition of the governing body. The first or foundation governors of the GM school will remain in the majority. No ballot will be involved; but the proposals would need to demonstrate clearly the extent of the sponsors' commitment to and involvement in the proposed College, and show evidence of full consultation with parents and interested parties.

10.17 Any existing voluntary aided school will be able to follow a broadly similar route, and to become a Technology College while remaining a voluntary aided school. The school will be able to seek funding from the Secretary of State and private sponsors, following a procedure similar to that for GM schools becoming GM Technology Colleges. The foundation governors of the voluntary aided school will remain in the majority.

10.18 The Secretary of State will also consider statutory proposals for the establishment of new voluntary aided Technology Colleges. Such proposals may be particularly appropriate when LEAs are rationalising their schools. If the sponsors of a new voluntary aided foundation were to commit themselves to take up all the positions as new foundation governors, they would be in the majority on the governing body.

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10.19 The establishment of voluntary aided Technology Colleges has to date been hampered by legal restrictions on the funding powers of both the Secretary of State and LEAs. The Government therefore proposes to legislate to enable LEAs to contribute towards governors' capital costs at voluntary aided schools or voluntary aided Technology Colleges.

10.20 The Government's view of the important role of voluntary aided schools in raising educational standards is set out in chapter 7. Within that general role, these proposals will enable voluntary aided schools to contribute effectively to the development of a wide range of specialisations in schools.

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  • The Government is committed to raising the standards of all schools to give all pupils the education which is their entitlement; it will intervene directly as necessary to do so
  • Inspection reports will identify schools 'at risk' of failing to give their pupils an acceptable education
  • The governing body of an 'at risk' school will prepare an action plan, and the LEA will provide a supporting commentary
  • LEAs will have new powers to appoint additional governors to, and to withdraw delegation from, county and voluntary controlled schools which are 'at risk', subject to a right of appeal to the Secretary of State by schools which think these powers are being used unreasonably
  • The Secretary of State will have the power to appoint an Education Association to take over the management of an 'at risk' school or group of schools from their governing bodies and LEA
  • The Education Association will have, in relation to each of the schools for which it is responsible, the powers and funding of a GM governing body
  • The Education Association will manage these schools until the Secretary of State is satisfied that they have achieved a satisfactory level of performance
  • At the end of that period, the schools will be considered for GM status

11.1 It is the responsibility of the Government and the education service to provide pupils everywhere with the same opportunities. The reality all too often is that some pupils are deprived of that right. The National Curriculum and local management of schools, along with the Government's other policies aimed at improving standards, are important to all schools; but the evidence is that some schools have failed to respond to them effectively. Parents with children at these failing schools often feel powerless and frustrated. Children only have the chance of one school career; they should not be allowed to suffer from the long drawn out demise of a failing school.

11.2 The evidence of low standards in some schools is widespread:

  • HMI's annual report, Education in England 1990-91: The Annual Report of HM Senior Chief Inspector of Schools (DES, 1992), highlights as one of the five areas of particular concern 'the persistent under-achievement of pupils attending some primary and secondary schools, particularly in inner city disadvantaged areas';
  • the discussion paper published by the Government in January 1992, (Curriculum Organisation and Classroom Practice in Primary Schools: A Discussion Paper, DES, 1992) warns of the danger of expecting too little of some pupils: 'there has also been a tendency to stereotype, and, in particular, to assume that social disadvantage leads inevitably to educational failure. This wasted potential must not continue';

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  • the first national test results for seven year olds in 1991 confirmed that, with some notable exceptions, the average standards in inner city LEAs in English, science and above all mathematics, fall well below the national average; and
  • there has been a series of damning HMI reports on individual schools.
The Way Ahead

11.3 Schools must not be allowed to fail their pupils. That requires clear and effective action by governing bodies, local authorities and at national level. Failure is not for want of resources. Many schools have a lot of money but produce poor education. The failure is usually one of leadership and of management at school level. It has been shown that, with strong leadership and effective management, schools in disadvantaged areas can flourish. The Government applauds the achievements of the head teachers and staffs of these schools; failing schools should learn from them. The key conditions for success in a school are:

  • a high level of parental and community support;
  • clear and widely understood objectives;
  • consistently high expectations of pupils; and
  • thorough monitoring and review of performance.
The Government is determined to see these conditions become the norm in schools that are currently failing their pupils.

11.4 The onus for improving schools rests in the first instance on governing bodies and their head teachers. Under the Education (Schools) Act 1992, it will be for governing bodies to draw up and publish an action plan following an inspection report. Such plans will be of particular importance where the report of the inspectors identifies a school as failing, or as likely to fail, to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education: that is, where the school is judged to be 'at risk'. The Government has it in mind to ask HMCI to organise the first cycle of inspections beginning September 1993 so as to maximise the early coverage of schools likely to be 'at risk'. In addition, the Secretary of State may ask HMCI to inspect any school - irrespective of its place in the normal four year cycle - about which he receives particularly disturbing reports.

New Powers of Local Education Authorities

11.5 Wherever a county or voluntary controlled school is identified as 'at risk', the Government will expect the governing body to work with the LEA to take urgent remedial action. However, if the governing body is unable or unwilling to take effective action, it will be necessary for the LEA to playa greater role. Existing powers available to the LEA are limited. It can, for example, withdraw delegation from a school, where the school is mismanaging its finances. The Government believes that LEAs will require additional powers if they are to be in a position to take the necessary action.

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11.6 It is proposed that, in the case of schools which have been identified as 'at risk' by an inspection report, LEAs should have:

  • a new power to appoint additional governors; and
  • an enhanced power to withdraw delegation. With delegation withdrawn the LEA would have greater influence over staffing matters. As at present, this power would be subject to a right of appeal from the school to the Secretary of State, who will wish to be assured that the proposed LEA action will promote the recovery of the school.
Establishing Education Associations

11.7 When the Secretary of State believes that the LEA and governors have failed to improve standards at an 'at risk' county or voluntary controlled school, the Government proposes that he should have the power to bring in an Education Association (EA) to put the school under new management until its performance has reached a satisfactory level.

11.8 HMCI will notify the Secretary of State of all 'at risk' reports. Where an inspection report concludes that a county or voluntary controlled school is 'at risk' the Government proposes that:

  • the LEA would be required to submit to the Secretary of State, within eight weeks of the delivery of the report to the school, a copy of the action plan which the governors had drawn up and a commentary on it by the LEA. That commentary would include notice of any further steps the LEA proposed to take, including as appropriate the use of its new powers;
  • if the Secretary of State judged that the governing body and the LEA were proposing an effective course of action, he would allow them up to a full academic year to improve the school. If at any time in the course of that period or at the end of it, it became clear that the plan was not working, the Secretary of State would have the option to place the school under the management of an EA; and
  • if the Secretary of State judged that the action plan from the governing body and the supporting plan from the LEA would not improve the performance of the school sufficiently, he would be able to bring the school under the management of an EA immediately.
Constitution of Education Associations

11.9 An EA will, on establishment, effectively be in the position of a GM governing body but appointed by the Secretary of State. It will be a small and cohesive body consisting of a chairman and typically some five other part-time members appointed by the Secretary of State. An EA would be set up when the first candidate for EA stewardship emerged within a particular area. It could subsequently take in as many schools in the area, including neighbouring LEAs, as were found to be failing.

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Funding of Education Associations

11.10 The EA will receive grant from the Secretary of State for the purpose of maintaining its schools. Its annual maintenance grant will be calculated on the same basis as for GM schools and the relevant local authorities' funds adjusted accordingly (see chapter 13). Where an EA controls more than one school it will determine the allocation of funding among them. It will also have access to transitional, special purpose grants and grants for capital expenditure, and will have discretion to determine their allocation across its schools. Any support staff for the EA will be funded from the administrative cost element, which is transferred from the LEA into the GM school's funding.

Powers of Education Associations

11.11 The Secretary of State will set the EA a remit to improve each identified school within a defined period, with an option to review the position and extend the period as necessary. In particular, the EA will be expected to provide the essential leadership and management that has previously been lacking at the school. That may require staffing changes at the senior management level and within its teaching force. The GM funding arrangements provide for this. The EA will also have powers to propose changes in the character of a school under its management, and if necessary to propose closure.

11.12 The EA will be expected to set up procedures to consult and benefit from the advice of the local community - parents, business, industry and other interested parties. It is that community involvement which will be essential to the future success of the schools concerned.

11.13 At the end of its stewardship, the EA will report to the Secretary of State on its progress in raising standards at the school. With advice from HMCI, the Secretary of State will judge how far the EA has fulfilled its purpose before deciding to end the EA's period of care for the school. The normal expectation is that the school will then become grant-maintained.

Voluntary Aided Schools

11.14 Many voluntary aided and special agreement schools in inner city areas are of good quality and the Government particularly values that contribution from the Churches. However, not all voluntary schools are of a uniformly high standard and some may in the future be identified as falling within the 'at risk' category. In those circumstances, the Government will want to be sure that existing powers available to the trustees or diocese concerned are sufficient to enable effective action to be taken. The Government is therefore consulting with the Churches on whether they see a need for any additional powers to assist them to improve schools which are found to be failing.

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  • The Government wants all schools to be able to take advantage of the GM option
  • Small primary schools, particularly in rural areas, will be able to opt together for GM status as a group of schools or 'cluster'
  • The cluster will be managed by a single governing body and will have a single budget, distributed between the constituent schools largely by reference to pupil numbers
  • Each school will continue to have its own admission arrangements Voluntary aided and special agreement schools will have the further option of applying for associate membership of a cluster, retaining their governing bodies but taking advantage of economies of scale and closer co-operation
  • A GM secondary school will be able to join a cluster on a voluntary basis

12.1 Many small schools, particularly in rural areas, have found substantial advantage in collaborating over some or all school activities, in order to make maximum use of resources. This has generally come to be known as clustering. Encouraged by the Rural Schools Education Support Grants Programme, a number of LEAs have developed primary school clusters, sharing curriculum and management expertise.

12.2 Recent evidence encourages the Government in the view that this development should be taken further. An evaluation by Leicester University of this programme, run by the Department in collaboration with 14 LEAs over the last six years, has shown that the advantages of clustering can be considerable. They include improvements in the quality of the curriculum and better curriculum support, better availability and use of resources and equipment, a reduction in rural isolation for children and teachers and greater parental involvement. Further, the report on Curriculum Organisation and Classroom Practice in Primary Schools recommended exploring further the idea of combining small schools under one governing body with a single school development plan and an integrated staffing structure.

12.3 The Government will encourage small GM schools that wish to pool administrative support, and management and teacher expertise in voluntary cluster arrangements. But some schools that wish to apply for GM status may want to go beyond informal groupings of this kind because of the potential lack of flexibility and of economies of scale in managing very small budgets.

12.4 The Government therefore proposes to legislate to enable groups of small primary schools to apply together for GM status, and, once approved, to be managed jointly by a single governing body. The arrangements set out below will allow the group or cluster of schools to make maximum benefit of its allowances for central costs by, for example, sharing bursarial and other administrative costs. This should increase the proportion of resources reaching the classroom.

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12.5 Any small primary school will be eligible to apply for GM cluster status together with at least one other primary school, including those in neighbouring LEAs. It is expected that schools with fewer than 100 pupils will benefit most from forming a cluster. There will be no restriction on the number or type of schools in a cluster but the Secretary of State would expect cluster proposals to make local geographical sense.

12.6 The Government recognises the particular contribution made by voluntary aided schools. They have distinctive individual characteristics and it is the job of their foundation governors to ensure that these are preserved. They already own their premises and employ their staff. It will, of course, be open to such schools, subject to the agreement of the foundation, to become full members of a cluster and thereby cease to have a separate governing body. Where voluntary aided and special agreement schools make this choice, the cluster governing body will include foundation governors who will be able to ensure that the school's character and the nature of its provision are protected. This will apply equally in GM clusters comprising all ex-voluntary aided and -special agreement schools and those comprising a mix of ex-voluntary aided, -special agreement and -county schools.

12.7 For most voluntary aided and special agreement schools, however, a looser form of association which enabled them to maintain their autonomy and special character may be a more suitable option. After becoming GM, they will be able to become associate members of a cluster and will retain their governing bodies while taking part in many of the joint arrangements established by the cluster governing body.

12.8 There are also benefits from close voluntary links between groups of primary schools and a local secondary school. Such links offer opportunities for more effective curriculum management, staff development and the use of resources in all the participating schools. A co-ordinated approach to the curriculum helps to ensure that primary pupils are well prepared for their entry into secondary school. A secondary school and its main feeder primary schools may well consider the benefits of such close association when deciding to apply for GM status.


12.9 Each prospective cluster school will be required to ballot its parents separately on cluster GM status. Given the degree of co-operation and preparation required, the Government proposes that a ballot would only be triggered by governor resolution. The ballot paper will specify the schools proposing to form the cluster. Where parents at all the schools voted in favour of GM cluster status, the schools would be required to put forward proposals to the Secretary of State. Where only some of the schools voted in favour, those schools would be able to put forward proposals but would not be required to do so. Associate member schools will not be required to ballot parents.

12.10 The Secretary of State will have the power to approve, modify or reject the application for cluster status. His powers of modification will include the power to approve a reduced cluster by approving the majority of prospective cluster schools' proposals and rejecting one or more. He will therefore be able to reject an application for GM status from a school which was clearly unviable even as part of a cluster.

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Composition of the Cluster Governing Body

12.11 The membership of the cluster governing body will be similar to that for a conventional GM school. The parents of all the schools will form a single electoral college and elect five parent governors. There will be similar arrangements for the election of two teacher governors. A head teacher governor will be chosen each year by his peers. There will be a majority of first or foundation governors or, in the case of a cluster comprised of ex-county and -voluntary aided schools, a combination of the two. Foundation governors will have the right of veto over any changes to the religious character of their schools.


12.12 Although overall responsibility for the budget of the cluster would rest with the governing body, the Government intends that cluster schools should be subject to the same market discipline as other schools. Parents will apply to individual schools within the cluster for admission, not to the cluster itself, and the governing body will be under a duty to ensure that the majority of funds follow the pupil. Each constituent school will have its own articles of government. The Government envisages that the governing body will delegate to each school in the cluster an amount of the grant to cover their basic running costs. The governing body will, however, be free to deploy the remaining funds as it sees fit, for the benefit of the cluster as a whole. Associate members of the cluster will be able to buy in to common administrative and other cluster services as they see fit but there will be no automatic pooling of resources.

12.13 The arrangements for the transfer of staff and assets will be similar to those for conventional GM schools. All staff employed solely at the schools will transfer to the cluster and be employed by the cluster governing body. Voluntary aided schools with associate membership of the cluster will continue to employ their own staff. Their assets will not transfer.

12.14 The cluster governing body will have the power to publish statutory proposals to enlarge significantly, change the character of, or close any of its schools. Such proposals will be subject to local objections under arrangements analogous to those under sections 12 and 13 of the Education Act 1980 and will come to the Secretary of State for decision. A cluster governing body will not be able to cease education at any school within the group without publishing statutory proposals.

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  • A new and simpler method of calculating grant to GM schools is needed as the number of GM schools increases
  • The Government will consult later in the year on the phased introduction from April 1994 of a Common Funding Formula for GM schools
  • The formula will be as simple and clear as possible, with most of the funds distributed by reference to pupil numbers
  • The formula will be introduced LEA by LEA, in each case following consultation with the local GM schools and the LEA

13.1 Very substantial sums of public money are invested by central and local government in England on school education - in 1991-92 the total sum was around £14.5 billion. Spending per pupil is over 40% higher after allowing for inflation than it was in 1979-S0. These sums need to be deployed to the best possible effect.

13.2 The Government believes that the best means of doing so is to delegate the maximum practicable responsibility for decisions to schools themselves. LEA maintained schools, under the schemes of local management introduced by all LEAs, now control the great bulk of the expenditure on their pupils. Government pressure has already resulted in a significant reduction by many LEAs in the amount of expenditure which they hold back for their own administration and support services: and a corresponding increase in the funds which schools have had available to spend on the direct education of their pupils. The Government wishes this process to go as far as possible

13.3 GM schools control 100% of their own budgets: and they are proving their ability to use this freedom to secure better value for money from the sums available to them. From next year all schools will be exposed to independent inspection under the Education (Schools) Act 1992. This will mean that the effective management of resources in individual schools is looked at more regularly than before and reported independently to parents.

13.4 The rest of this chapter considers the changes that will be needed in funding arrangements as the number of GM schools increases, and assesses the overall cost of the Government's proposals contained in this White Paper.

A Common Funding Formula for GM Schools

13.5 Each GM school's general recurrent grant, known as annual maintenance grant (AMG), has been based to date on what the Secretary of State estimates each school would have received for its running costs under the local management scheme of its former LEA, plus an addition to enable the school to buy or provide for itself services previously provided out of the LEA's central funds. The grant is paid to the school and recouped from its former local authority.

13.6 In the autumn of 1991, the Government reviewed the methodology for calculating the AMG central services add-on. For 1992-93 the standard addition has been reduced from 16% to 15% in recognition of greater delegation by LEAs. In certain

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cases, where there are a significant number of GM schools in an LEA area, individual calculations of the add-on for an LEA are made.

13.7 It was always recognised that the funding system would need to be reviewed as the number of GM schools increased. As an increasing number of primary or secondary schools in a given LEA become grant-maintained, it becomes less and less fair and practicable to fund GM schools by reference to LEA budget and local management of schools decisions which need have no regard to the interests of GM schools in the area. Once all secondary schools in an LEA are GM, the authority will not have to set a secondary school budget at all. 30 LEAs have 15 or fewer secondary schools and in a number of LEAs a quarter (and even in some cases a half) of their secondary pupils are already in GM schools. The Government therefore intends to introduce gradually from 1994-95 new arrangements for calculating AMG.

13.8 The Government proposes that the Secretary of State will have discretion to introduce, LEA by LEA, a common funding formula (CFF) for GM schools when there are sufficient primary or secondary schools to justify it. The formula will distribute between GM schools in an LEA area a total based on the relevant share of the Government's Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) for the LEA concerned. There will be a balancing adjustment in individual local authorities' funding as necessary.

13.9 The Secretary of State will apply the CFF to an area only after consultation with the GM schools in that area and the LEA. The Government's aim is for the formula to be as simple and transparent as possible. The great majority of CFF funds will be distributed by reference to pupil numbers, but the formula will also be able to take account of other objective differences between schools. In considering funding for post-If pupils, the Government will wish to enable GM schools to continue to contribute cost-effectively to meeting the increased demand for post-If education, and to take account of funding arrangements for other routes that people of this age can take. The CFF will secure that over time schools across the country will be funded on a consistent basis derived from the Government's own view of the appropriate level of spending in an area.

13.10 The Government is proposing to introduce these arrangements beginning from the financial year 1994-95 only after consultation. Further details of the proposed arrangements will be set out in a consultation paper later this year. It will also consult on AMG arrangements for 1993-94 which will take account of the importance of GM schools receiving final AMG figures as early as possible.

Specific and Capital Grants

13.11 In addition to AMG, GM schools receive specific grants for a variety of purposes and capital grants. The specific grants have proved essential in enabling schools to make the transition to GM status, and to target resources at identified priorities, such as implementing the National Curriculum. These grants will be kept under review. The expectation is that, as schools gain more experience of local management of schools, they will need less financial help in the transition to GM status.

13.12 The Government will continue to make available on a yearly rolling programme funds for the capital development of GM schools. Totals will be decided annually as part of the Public Expenditure Survey. The Government will continue to set criteria

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that bids for capital grant will have to meet. It will also keep under review incentives to schools to dispose of and recycle the proceeds from redundant assets. Once the Funding Agency is established, it will have responsibility for determining allocations to GM schools against the Government's criteria. The first priority for capital resources will be to enable the Funding Agency to fulfil its duty to provide sufficient places to meet demand in a given area. Apart from that, the Government expects to continue to place particular emphasis on urgent repairs and refurbishment; on the development of technological education and implementing the National Curriculum generally; and on enabling popular schools to expand to meet parental demand.

The Cost of the White Paper Proposals

13.13 The proposals in this White Paper provide a framework for the efficient and effective development of the policies towards schools pursued by this Government since 1979. In particular, they build on and consolidate the measures in the Education Reform Act 1988 and are designed to maximise school autonomy, actual choice, diversity and competition. Taken together with the proposed new powers for the Secretary of State to secure the rationalisation and removal of surplus places and the promotion of new ideas and innovations in schools, these proposals should yield significant increases in value for money over the years ahead.

13.14 The only significant additional expenditure will be on the establishment and operation of the Funding Agency. It will have an important, but carefully circumscribed, role. Its costs are therefore expected to be modest; and there will be more than offsetting savings in local authority administration and DFE manpower costs as the number of GM schools grows. The other proposals in this paper are not expected to have significant costs. The expense of holding local public enquiries into certain rationalisation proposals should be outweighed many times over by savings from the removal of surplus places as a result of those rationalisations. Overall, once the implementation of the Government's proposals is complete, the Government looks to secure significantly greater value for money and improvements in quality from the substantial resources already devoted to schools.

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' ... for it is certain that very many children, little more than babes taken as it were from the breast to the book, are capable of making much greater advancement in learning than is commonly imagined, if they are properly dealt with ... It will give their parents cause to adore their Maker to see the talents He gave their little ones dilate themselves so early and so surprisingly.'

Griffith Jones, Llanddowror
from Welch Piety 1751

14.1 The five great themes of quality, diversity, increasing parental choice, greater autonomy for schools, and greater accountability have been at the heart of the reforms of education in Wales since 1979. They are equally at the heart of the proposals in this White Paper. The principles of the reforms set out in the earlier chapters therefore apply equally to Wales. The Secretary of State for Wales is responsible for all education matters in the Principality and the reforms will be implemented so as to reflect the distinctive needs and historical, cultural and linguistic characteristics of Wales.

14.2 This chapter sets out what has already been achieved as a result of the Government's earlier reforms and the foundations they provide for developing success in the education service in Wales. It explains how the further reforms will extend this achievement to provide the people of Wales with excellence in education in the years ahead and the basis of a prosperous, successful and culturally rich environment in the 21st century.

A Story of Achievement

14.3 Since 1979 spending per pupil in Wales has increased in real terms by 36% in the primary sector, and 43% in the secondary. Pupil:teacher ratios have become more generous. The proportion of pupils leaving school with recognised qualifications has increased significantly, as has the number of pupils entering full-time further and higher education. Some 70% of 3 and 4 year olds (excluding 'rising 5s') receive school education.

14.4 The National Curriculum is a major achievement as a statement of quality. Its statutory content has been established and comes fully into force for schools in Wales from September. The distinctive features of Wales have been reflected in separate curriculum Orders for geography, history, art and music. These, together with the Welsh language, will form the core of the 'Cwricwlwm Cymreig, the Welsh Curriculum, which will give children in Wales an understanding of the influence which the uniqueness of their country has on their lives. None of this would have been possible without the invaluable contribution of the Curriculum Council for Wales, which will receive £1.565 million in 1992-93 to support its work. In addition, in 1992-93 financial support for the implementation of the National Curriculum through training and support programmes has been set at a record level of £16.5 million, an increase of 27% on the previous year.

14.5 Particular importance is attached to the sensibly phased full introduction of Welsh language teaching so that Welsh should be learned and spoken by children from the

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age of 5 to 16 in schools throughout Wales. In 1992-93, £5 million in specific grants has been made available to LEAs to support its introduction, an increase of 18% on the previous year.

14.6 Parental choice and involvement are central to the Government's prime objective of ensuring the delivery of an education service of the highest possible standard: to those who receive it, by those who provide it, and on behalf of those who pay for it. Education: A Charter for Parents in Wales (Welsh Office, 1991), published last September, set out parents' existing rights and responsibilities and the Government's proposals to extend them further. These have now been embodied in the Education (Schools) Act 1992. The Welsh Office publication Children with Special Educational Needs: A Guide for Parents (Welsh Office, 1992), issued earlier this year, emphasises that all children, including children with special educational needs, are entitled to the same rights and opportunities

14.7 Increased parental choice of the schools in which their children are educated, the introduction of standard testing, and the requirement that parents receive a report on their child's progress at least once a year, will all lead to greater interest and involvement by parents in their children's education. The publication of comparative data on test and examination results, truancy rates and the destination of leavers, will help remove the mystique that has surrounded the measurement of performance in schools. The new arrangements for more regular and frequent independent inspection of schools will enhance accountability for the sake of our children and their future.

14.8 Proper delegation of responsibility to school governing bodies raises performance, morale and responsiveness to parents, and cuts out unnecessary bureaucracy. Over 650 primary schools and some 200 secondary schools in Wales are already in receipt of delegated powers under schemes for the local management of schools. All primary and secondary schools will have full delegation by 1 April 1995. The arrangements have been widely welcomed. They will be pursued with increasing vigour.

14.9 GM schools will make an increasingly significant and important contribution to the delivery of education services in Wales. GM status provides a stimulus for higher standards. It has already been approved for 3 schools in Wales. There has been a significant increase in interest in GM status in recent months and many more applications are expected when the issue is considered by new school governing bodies from September onwards.

14.10 The Secretary of State for Wales is aware of the contribution made by teachers in the implementation of the Government's reforms, which reflects great credit on them. The Government's proposals for secondary teacher training have been well received. They will focus teacher training more on schools, strengthen the partnership between schools and teacher training institutions, and ensure that training concentrates on the development of competencies needed for teaching in the classroom. The Government is also considering what improvements are needed in the arrangements for the initial training of primary school teachers. Significant progress has been made in teacher appraisal to help teachers improve their professional skills and develop their full potential, and to encourage better planning and delivery of the curriculum. This will lead to greater confidence, improved morale and - above all - better teaching.

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14.11 The achievements of the past decade have not been restricted to the school sector. There have been important changes too in the further and higher education sectors. The Further and Higher Education Act 1992 provides that from 1 April 1993 further education colleges will be given full independence to enable them to respond more quickly and effectively to the needs of students and employers alike. The planning and funding of the further education sector will transfer to the Further Education Funding Council for Wales (FEFCW) as part of all effective All Wales strategy to ensure that resources are allocated in the most efficient and effective way. The Secretary of State for Wales is particularly keen to develop a partnership approach between schools, LEAs and the FEFCW in the provision of education for 16-18 year olds. The FEFCW will also work closely with the seven Training and Enterprise Councils in Wales to develop provision which prepares young people for the world of work.

14.12 The Act also provides for a new Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to take over responsibility for funding all of the higher education institutions from April 1993. It will then be possible, for the first time, to develop higher education in the Principality as a single, coherent sector.

The Context for Further Improvement

14.13 The implementation of the reforms set out in this White Paper will take place in the context of two significant developments of particular relevance to Wales. The first is the Secretary of State for Wales' assumption earlier this year of responsibility for training. This will make possible the development by the Welsh Office of an integrated strategy for all education and training with the aim of securing a highly skilled and flexible workforce through continuous development, built on a commitment to learning throughout life.

14.14 The second development is the Secretary of State for Wales' proposal to establish some 23 unitary authorities whose responsibilities would include education. The smaller school population of the proposed new authorities, together with an expected increase in the number of GM schools and increased levels of delegation to schools through the local management of schools initiative, will have significant implications for the role of LEAs in Wales. They will need increasingly to take on an enabling role and work in collaboration with each other and the GM schools sector, as well as further and higher education bodies. It will also be necessary to review existing arrangements for consultation and co-ordination and other functions carried out at the All Wales level, including the role of the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC).

The Programme of Action

Ensuring Quality

14.15 The National Curriculum is at the heart of the drive for quality in education in Wales. The Curriculum Council for Wales has played a vital role in the implementation of the National Curriculum in Wales. The Government proposes to extend the Council's functions so that it can build further on this work. To complement the work of the new School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, the Government proposes to extend the functions of the Curriculum Council for Wales to include responsibility for assessment and examination of Welsh first and second languages at Key Stages

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1-4 and beyond, plus assessment at Key Stages 1-3 for all other subjects in Wales. It is proposed that it should assume these wider responsibilities in the first half of 1994, and from that time be known as the Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales.

14.16 It is also proposed that the functions of the Council should be extended to include support for the development of classroom materials specific to the needs of the Curriculum in Wales, especially for subjects taught through the medium of Welsh, including Welsh as a subject. It is proposed that the development of Welsh language classroom materials, currently undertaken by the Welsh Language Education Development Committee of the WJEC, should be transferred to a Welsh Department in the new Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales. A consultation paper on this proposal will be issued shortly.

14.17 We shall aim to secure higher standards in technological education in schools. The Technical and Vocational Education Initiative in Wales has already given a greater curriculum emphasis in science and technology and its relevance to industry. It has created new resources in schools and in specialist centres providing a technology environment with the latest technology equipment and resources. Major investment in micro-computers through our Information Technology in Schools Initiative over the last 4 years (a total of £3.2 million) has succeeded in providing an average of one computer for every 14 secondary school pupils giving young people unprecedented opportunities to develop IT skills in school. Education/business partnerships increasingly harness the support and expertise of industry. We shall build on this investment and seek to involve further the Training and Enterprise Councils in Wales to support technology teaching in schools, to encourage positive attitudes to this important aspect of education and to encourage closer links between schools and industry.

14.18 School inspection is vital to the maintenance and improvement of standards. A new and independent office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector (HMCI) of Schools in Wales will be established on 1 September 1992. In addition to responsibilities for the provision of advice to the Secretary of State on the quality of education and educational standards in schools in Wales, including advice on their financial management and general ethos, HMCI will regulate the new system of school inspection by independent inspectors registered for that purpose. All schools will be inspected on a regular cycle, set at 5 years in the first instance. Inspections of secondary schools under the new arrangements will begin in September 1993, and of primary and special schools in September 1994.

14.19 It is important that links are made between the development of the Curriculum, assessment and inspection. It is therefore proposed that the Chief Inspector of Schools in Wales will be an assessor on both the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales.

School Organisation and Funding

14.20 The GM sector in Wales is expected to expand significantly over the next 3 years. Together with the establishment of smaller unitary authorities, this will make it necessary to change current arrangements under which LEAs alone have the statutory duty to secure school places for pupils within their area and for the strategic planning of educational provision.

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14.21 The Government proposes therefore that there should be new arrangements for funding GM schools in Wales and to rationalise the responsibilities of the GM and LEA maintained sectors to provide sufficient school places, along the lines proposed for the Funding Agency for Schools in England. There would be significant advantages in vesting these functions initially in the Further Education Funding Council for Wales (FEFCW), particularly in the area of strategic planning of the secondary sector, given the FEFCW's responsibilities under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 to secure sufficient facilities for the education of 16-18 year olds and the general move towards closer alignment of the academic and vocational streams. It is therefore proposed to seek powers for the Secretary of State to do this and to modify the title and membership of the FEFCW accordingly.

14.22 It is intended, however, that, when the number of GM schools justifies the change, a separate schools funding body [the Schools Funding Council for Wales] jSFCWI should be established. Indeed, growth in the number of GM schools may be sufficiently rapid for it to be sensible to move directly to the establishment of the SFCW.

14.23 It is intended that the 'entry' point for the FEFCW/SFCW to share with LEAs the duties to secure sufficient school places and for rationalisation of educational provision should normally operate at the point when 10% of pupils in either the primary or secondary sectors within the LEA area attend GM schools. The 'exit' point for LEAs to be relieved of these duties should normally operate when 75% of pupils are in GM schools. It is important, however, that there should be flexibility in applying these trigger points so that they can be adapted to meet different circumstances in different areas in Wales. It is proposed, therefore, that the Secretary of State should have the power to specify different trigger points in both primary and secondary sectors and in different LEA areas, subject to consultation with the schools and LEAs concerned. It is also proposed that an LEA should be able to request the Secretary of State to relieve it of those duties once more than 10% of pupils are in GM schools.

14.24 The Annual Maintenance Grant payable to GM schools in Wales is at present based on what the school would have received for its running costs under its former LEA's local management of schools scheme, plus an amount calculated to be the school's proportion of the LEA's central services costs. The grant is paid to the school by the Welsh Office and recouped from its former LEA.

14.25 An increase in the number of GM schools will make it less practicable and less appropriate for their grants to be calculated by reference to LEA schemes. A new and simpler method of calculating grants is needed. The Government therefore intends to introduce a common funding formula for GM schools in Wales. This would have the added advantage of enabling schools to plan ahead with a greater degree of certainty than at present.

14.26 Under arrangements agreed by the Welsh Consultative Council on Local Government Finance, local authorities in Wales do not receive Standard Spending Assessments jSSAI for individual services, such as, education. Authorities receive an overall SSA and are free to determine the level of resources to be devoted to individual services in accordance with local needs and priorities. There is therefore no basis for a formula based on SSAs for education such as is proposed in England. Consideration is being given to the development of a suitable formula approach for Wales and proposals will be issued for consultation later this year.

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14.27 Church schools have made a distinctive and important contribution to education in Wales, enhancing the spiritual and moral dimension of education and increasing the opportunity for parental choice. The Government is keen to preserve and enhance the role of Churches and other voluntary bodies in the development of the GM school sector in Wales, and invites them to contribute positively to that objective.

14.28 The Government is anxious to ensure that the large number of small schools in Wales should not be prevented from benefiting from the advantages offered by GM status. It is particularly keen to see schools in the extensive rural areas of Wales take advantage of the proposals to enable schools to seek GM status as part of a cluster.

Special Educational Needs

14.29 Securing high quality education for those with special needs will be an important part of the implementation of the White Paper in Wales. A separate consultation document on the Government's proposals for improvements in arrangements for assessments, statements, appeals and placements was issued in Wales on 15 July (Special Educational Needs: Access to the System, Welsh Office, 1992). Following a review of its first 10 years of successful operation, the All Wales Mental Handicap Strategy is being relaunched and, as a result, from April 1993 those with severe learning difficulties will benefit from the designation of education as a core service under the Strategy. This will mean that the development of educational opportunities will feature in county plans as part of coherent proposals for all forms of development. The Secretary of State will consider proposals to pump-prime opportunities for integrated education. Full details are given in The All Wales Mental Handicap Strategy: Framework for Development from April 1993 (Welsh Office, 1992) published in March this year.

The Way Forward

14.30 The proposals contained in this White Paper will build on the excellent foundations laid by the Government's earlier reforms. They mean that there will be a comprehensive programme for improvements in education which will present both an opportunity and a challenge to the education service in Wales. The Government is confident that both will be taken up eagerly to ensure that education in Wales is second to none.

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15.1 This White Paper details the final stages of a great transformation in education which will take at least a decade to work through: a child tested at the age of 7 this year will not be taking GCSE until 2001.

15.2 We intend to create a stable system of education that sets international levels of excellence. Other leading nations have high standards and a high degree of specialisation. We can match and outstrip them. This requires not only a new framework but also renewed commitment from parents, staff and pupils. The framework is being established and the commitment already exists. We are creating the conditions necessary to harness that commitment and raise standards to new levels.

15.3 The essential conditions to achieve excellence and a fulfilment of talent - at whatever level - are those of diversity and choice. By the next century, we will have achieved a system characterised not by uniformity but by choice, underpinned by the spread of grant-maintained schools. There will be a rich array of schools and colleges, all teaching the National Curriculum and playing to their strengths, allowing parents to choose the schools best suited to their children's needs, and all enjoying parity of esteem. Our aim is a single tier of excellence.

15.4 The clear indicators of performance provided by regular testing which will be publicly available each year, will provide a benchmark for each pupil; and a spur to higher standards for teachers, to further endeavours by their pupils and to greater involvement by their parents.

15.5 Regular and rigorous inspection will similarly provide a benchmark for each school, and a spur to greater quality.

15.6 Talent is not uniform. Our education system cannot afford to be uniform either. We will have an education system that meets the needs of our children - not one in which children are, for example, forced to conform to the needs of some theoretically based undifferentiated and under-performing system. That is the way to open the doors of opportunity for all our children.

15.7 The education system of the 21st century will be neither divisive nor based on some lowest common denominator. Diversity, choice and excellence will be its hallmarks, with each child having an opportunity to realise his or her full potential, liberating and developing his or her talents.

15.8 This is the Government's vision for education in this country. This White Paper is another important step towards its realisation.

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The proposals outlined in the White Paper
will form the basis for the legislation
to be introduced in the autumn. The
Department for Education and the Welsh
Office will take account of the views of
interested parties on these proposals
in preparing the legislation.

Comments should be sent to:

Mr T Linden
Room 4.52
Department for Education
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street


Mr DG Thomas
Schools Administration Division 2
Welsh Office Education Department
Government Buildings
Ty Glas Road

to arrive by Friday, 25 September 1992