Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Edward Balls Edward Balls Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families 4:18 pm, 11th January 2010

The reason why is that we now have a large number of academies, with the figure heading towards 400, and the separate and independent regulation of each academy would be bureaucratic for academy sponsors, for accredited schools groups and for the school system. Some 7,000 voluntary aided faith schools are exempt from the 2006 Act, and so are many further education providers and universities. It is clear to me that a school, funded by the taxpayer to provide free education to pupils, is charitable in its purposes, and such institutions will be regulated by the Young People's Learning Agency-something that the Minister with responsibility for the third sector, my right hon. Friend Angela E. Smith, is proposing if the Bill is enacted.

I know that there are concerns within the Charity Commission about the measure's wider ramifications, but, seen as an education policy, this legislation represents a sensible piece of deregulation and a reduction in bureaucracy. It will make the system much simpler and more streamlined, without every school having to go through a separate check when the issue is absolutely clear.

In law, it is also clear that the academy sponsor has to be charitable in its standing. So, the academy sponsor will have to be charitable, and the purpose will have to be free education for children. Such institutions are clearly charities, and it is much more sensible to undertake the process in a streamlined, class-based way, as we do with foundation schools, rather than school by school. The school-by-school approach was fine when we had 20 or 30 academies, but-Michael Gove will not like this-given the pace at which I have accelerated the academies programme, the Bill represents an important but sensible piece of deregulation.

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