Clause 72 - Interpretation of Part 6

Part of Education Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 15th January 2002.

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Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 4:45 pm, 15th January 2002

I should simply like to ask the Minister one swift question. The clause is concerned with interpretation and definition, and I have noted that the word ''maturities'' is used repeatedly throughout part 6. For example, one of the definitions in clause 72 reads:

'''attainment targets', in relation to a key stage, means the knowledge, skills and understanding which pupils of different abilities and maturities are expected to have by the end of that stage''.

I am sure that that is meant to mean something specific. That is why it is described as such in the Bill. I hope that it is, because if not it should not be there. I also assume that ''maturities'', does not mean the same as ''ages''. If it did, even in the jargon-bound world of the Department for Education and Skills, surely it would say ''ages''.

The Under-Secretary scoffs, but the one thing on which we must agree is that the world and the DFES are full of jargon. We should not work in jargon but in phrases that people can understand. Those who have to interpret a Bill such as this, including those who teach or run education establishments, should be able to do so just by looking at it. I am willing to accept that the word ''ages'' would not necessarily fit into this

description in place of ''maturities''. I do not suggest that it should, because I certainly accept that one child aged two years, five months and three weeks will not necessarily be at the same stage of development as another child of exactly the same age. I assume that to be the reason for the word ''maturities''. It is used not only in line 25 but repeatedly throughout part 6. I cannot tell from the Bill what it means. If others can, I should like to know. We deserve an explanation from the Minister about its exact meaning and why it is being used.