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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 7th July 2010.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour 7:15 pm, 7th July 2010

My Lords, I rise with some trepidation in case the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, intervenes to say that we are replicating what we discussed in Committee. However, I think it is fair to make the point that, first, as the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, said in moving the amendment, we did not feel that the Minister responded strongly enough. Secondly, we had a good debate yesterday on Report on the subject of primary schools and academies, and I refer to the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, on the role of governing bodies. Thinking back over the past 20 or 30 years to what governors used to do in schools compared with what they do now, there is no doubt that their workload and responsibilities have grown considerably, and I suggest that with academy status more corporate responsibilities will fall on the governing body. This is an important matter. It is also very important to have strong parental involvement, including on the governing body. However, the Bill does not provide for the right signals to be given.

I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, blames the previous Government for the existence of that responsibility, and it is well stated that this legislation on governing bodies follows the previous Government's legislation on academies. However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, pointed out in Committee, there are reasons for that. We were talking then about developing academies essentially to deal with some of the most challenging situations and communities, and there was genuine concern that some schools would not be able to attract enough parent governors. We are talking now about the extension of academies to schools in general. I should think that it is right to give some kind of signal that we expect strong parental involvement. I therefore ask the Minister whether he will give further attention to this matter between now and Third Reading.