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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:31 pm on 7th July 2010.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lord Wallace of Saltaire Liberal Democrat 6:31 pm, 7th July 2010

My Lords, when I first joined the House of Lords, we did not receive any briefings on anything. That situation has been transformed in the 15 years I have been here so that now, on a Bill such as this, we are deluged with briefings, which are often extremely useful.

On behalf of the Minister and the department, I apologise for unreturned phone calls. I offer, if it is helpful, a meeting with the Minister and officials to discuss this question further. On the specific issue, I reassure the noble Baroness that all schools providing for under-threes' education are required under the Childcare Act to register with Ofsted and to deliver the early years foundation stage. This includes independent schools and therefore also includes academies. Section 40 sets out the duty to deliver the early years foundation stage. That is the key element. This already applies to academies in the same way as it does to other schools.

Reference has already been made to the review to be carried out by Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of Action for Children, which will report to my honourable friend Sarah Teather in spring 2011. The review will be open and will look at the foundations that should be in place to protect young children's welfare and support their development and learning. It will also consider throughout how to reduce burdens on providers as the experience of the past three years is that the requirements of the early years foundation stage have increased the workload on many of those who work with young children, and so taken time away from children. We do not intend a fundamental change but we do intend to review the way in which the Act works in practice. I hope that that is sufficient assurance. I again apologise if phone calls have not been returned. With those assurances, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw the amendment.