Clause 29 - Further education etc. provided by local education authorities and schools

Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 3rd April 2001.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Education and Employment)

I promise not to speak at length. I understand that local authority services and adult and community education—the old non-schedule 2 formulation that has now changed because it is no longer under the umbrella of the Learning and Skills Council—will be covered by the clause. I have no difficulty with that, although I would grateful if the Minister's would confirm it.

I shall address further education that is secured by a local education authority. The 1996 Act states that the superior authority is the local education authority, whether or not there is an LEA or education committee as such. Therefore, there will always be continuity while there is a local authority that is designated as a local education authority. I am not trying to be difficult, but a case in which a local authority has decided to merge its education function with another committee should not be overlooked.

My understanding is that the clause would cover further education

``secured by a local education authority; or provided by the governing body of a maintained school''.

That would deal with the situation of a post-16-year-old who wished to go to school to do A-levels, which might be a sensible decision. Would such an event be defined as further education and caught under these duties, rather than within the school and the tribunal?

Many people would also find the following a desirable practice. It may be sensible for potentially disaffected young people who are within the school setting, registered in the school and within the compulsory school age group to carry out some activities in a further education college. Will the Minister clarify whether the Bill treats such people as treated? Do they fall, therefore, within the provisions that relate to schools, or are they further education students? We want to ensure that no one slips through the net, and that the body responsible in law is fully defined.

Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Employment) (Employment and Equal Opportunities)

The clause seeks to sweep up all that used traditionally to be known as adult education provided by education authorities.

Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Employment) (Employment and Equal Opportunities)

Indeed, and the youth service.

I shall deal with the situation of a 16-year-old doing A-levels. The principle that underpins the Bill is that duties should follow the institution. Therefore, if a person takes his or her A-levels in a school building, he or she would be covered by the duties that pertain to the school. A 14-year-old in a further education college would be covered by part IV general powers. All people are covered by the institution in which they receive their education, rather than by the category into which they fall.

The superior authority will have responsibility. However, I reassure the hon. Member for Daventry that nobody will escape. If a local authority has the choice to organise itself differently, all people will be caught, either by the local education authority or social services, which come under the remit of the clause.

I hope that that will reassure the Committee about the clause, which is intended to capture the diverse nature of adult education, which we all recognise. Differences from the formal further and higher education sector will be accepted. We all know that LEA provision is organised in a wide variety of community-based settings, many of which are intended primarily for other purposes. The range of venues is likely to vary year by year. For that reason, the duties rest on the LEA rather than the individual provider, so that the authority can draw on its full range of providers to ensure compliance. LEAs are caught only when they provide educational services to people who have enrolled on their courses. I hope that, with that explanation, the Committee will accept the clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 29 ordered to stand part of the Bill.