Academies Bill [HL] — Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 7th July 2010.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour 4:30 pm, 7th July 2010

My Lords, I associate myself with the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, on Amendment 6. Academies are subject to the same statutory framework in respect of temporary and permanent exclusions as all other state-funded schools, which is welcome. We know that academies have had higher rates of exclusion than other state-funded schools and it is clear that there would be an impact on neighbouring schools if academies in general excluded more pupils but then did not take excluded pupils from elsewhere in the education area.

There are reasons for this in the current academy scheme, where often highly challenging schools were converted into academies and discipline was frequently a top priority. Where there is a large number of academies, it is important that they take their fair share of excluded pupils.

In government, we established a requirement on all schools, including academies, to participate in behaviour and attendance partnerships that involve other schools and have access to support from other children's services. This was based on a clear understanding of the potential benefits of collaboration between schools and local authorities in the promotion of good pupil behaviour. I can see nothing in the Bill that links the new academies with a requirement to participate in behaviour partnerships. I hope that the Minister can assure us that academies will continue to do so.

I was very much involved in the establishment of NHS foundation trusts and there are clear parallels with academies. Foundation trusts were set up in the context of a statutory duty of partnership. There was a clear recognition of that in the National Health Service, whatever role different organisations played. NHS foundation trusts had a membership and a governing body, so those institutions were standing on their own two feet more than other parts of the National Health Service. Nevertheless, they were still part of the NHS. A duty was laid on them to work with others. It is a pity in some ways that we do not have a similar understanding that there should be a duty of partnership here. The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, raises those issues in her group of amendments and we look forward to a constructive reply from the Minister.