Children, Schools and Families Bill
Vernon Coaker (Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Gedling, Labour)
I apologise to the CommitteeI did not realise it wanted me to say something as a starting point for the clause.
The clause provides for the system of redress that supports pupil and parent guarantees by putting the guarantees within the scope of the parental complaints service created under the ASCL Act 2009. If pupils at maintained schools or their parents consider that they are not receiving an element of the pupil and parent guarantee, and have not been able to resolve the problem with the school and governing body, they will be able to ask the local government ombudsman to investigate. As the provisions of pupil and parent guarantees are so important, it is our expectation that schools and local authorities will take seriously their legal responsibilities to deliver the guarantees, and we expect almost all complaints to be resolved at school level, as at present.
By their very existence, the guarantees will drive improvements and schools will know what is expected of them. However, when a school or local authority does not deliver an entitlement to a child or parent, a guarantee without the possibility of redress is no guarantee at all. Pupils at maintained schools and their parents will already be able to complain about an act or omission by the governing body to fulfil a guarantee requirement by virtue of the ASCL Act complaints system. The clause will extend the complaints process to allow pupils and parents to complain about an injustice sustained by a pupil or parent as a consequence of a head teachers failure to comply with a requirement imposed by the pupil and parent guarantee.
The clause amends the Local Government Act 1974 so that pupils at maintained schools and their parents can make complaints about local authorities in connection with any functions they might have under the guarantees. As a consequence, a parent or pupil at a maintained school can make complaints to the local government ombudsman when there is an injustice to them resulting from a failure by the head teacher, governing body or local authority to comply with the requirement of the guarantees. The ombudsman will have the power to investigate complaints and reports, and make recommendations.
It is clear from our debates on clause 1 that redress is an important part of the guarantee system.