Clause 20 - Admissions

Part of Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 3rd April 2001.

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Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Employment) (Employment and Equal Opportunities) 12:00 pm, 3rd April 2001

Again, I stress that we have gone for the existing appeals and exclusion procedures because we wish to retain a procedure that works well and is informed, quick and effective. Where we have considered the existing appeal mechanisms to be suitable and robust, we have put new duties in place within them. The simple reason why temporary exclusions have had to go elsewhere is that there is no existing mechanism for them. Most parents who submit an appeal against admission are likely to submit it on more grounds than just disability. That is why it seemed sensible to deal with the relevant matters together.

We shall provide appropriate training for members of the appeals panels to ensure that they are aware of their new duties. We intend to revisit the training pack currently provided to lay members of appeals panels, with a view to providing guidance on the new disability duties. I shall write to the hon. Gentleman as soon as I can about whether members of appeals panels have recourse to the advice of a qualified lawyer.

We had not thought about any circumstances in which wider dissemination of the information arising from the proceedings of an appeals panel would be necessary or would add value in terms of preventing discrimination in other situations. We certainly do not feel constrained, but if schools had to receive that advice, it would add to their bureaucratic burden, unless there was clear value in ensuring that more bits of paper reached head teachers' in-trays. I know how anxious Opposition Members are for us to minimise bureaucracy. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to pursue the matter, perhaps he will come back to me.