Clause 11 - Publication of inspection reports

Education Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 22nd March 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Shadow Minister (Education) 10:30 am, 22nd March 2005

I beg to move amendment No. 16, in clause 11, page 6, line 42, at end insert—

‘(5)The Chief Inspector is required to publish all reports on schools placed in special measures in accordance with the provisions of section 44 and make them available to registered parents of registered pupils at that school.’.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 19, in clause 29, page 18, line 42, at end insert—

‘(5)The Chief Inspector is required to publish all reports on schools placed in special measures in accordance with the provisions of section 44 and make them available to registered parents of registered pupils at that school.’.

Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Shadow Minister (Education)

I am frantically turning pages.

Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Shadow Minister (Education)

Special measures are dreaded by all schools. They come as a great blow. Schools in my constituency with inspirational head teachers, including schools that are having difficulty that feel that they are making good progress, have been inspected and then told that they are going to be put on special measures. That is a body blow to the whole school community.

It is necessary that the reports are published, however, because identifying the weaknesses or problems in a school that led to its being put into special measures is the path out of special measures. The purpose of inspection is not to point the finger and criticise, but to identify failings and to help schools through them so that they can come out of special measures. The publication process is an important part of the inspection process. That is why the amendments were tabled.

Photo of Don Touhig Don Touhig Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Wales), Department for Constitutional Affairs, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs) (also in Wales Office)

I join colleagues in welcoming you to the Chair, Mr. Forth. Having witnessed your contribution to last Friday’s debate, I think that few people know our procedures better. I am sure that we will be in safe hands and get through our business quickly with you in the Chair. I commend the hon. Member for Upminster (Angela Watkinson) too. I know that she is a reader of mystery novels. It may be a mystery why she has little support today, but as she is facing three Ministers with surnames that   sound the same, she has done remarkably well in tackling the matters that she wishes the Committee to consider.

The hon. Lady’s amendments would require the chief inspectors of England and Wales to publish the reports of all schools placed in special measures and make them available to registered parents of registered pupils at the school. I believe that her amendments are unnecessary. They are unnecessary for England because the Bill ensures that the reports of all section 5 inspections, not just those that specify that special measures are required, will be available for inspection by members of the public. Indeed, any person who asks for a copy of the report must be provided with one. Reports are sent to every registered parent of registered pupils at the school.

Under clause 14, the chief inspector is required to ensure that copies of a section 5 inspection report are sent to, among others,

“the appropriate authority for the school.”

The appropriate authority is the school’s governing body, or, if the school does not have a delegated budget, the local education authority. The clause further requires the appropriate authority

“to secure that every registered parent of a registered pupil at the school receives a copy of the report”.

Clause 38 makes similar provision for the report of section 28 inspections in Wales. It provides for the inspection report to be sent to the appropriate authority for the school. It also places a duty on the appropriate authority to secure that every registered parent and every registered pupil is sent a summary of the report with the full report on request. Clause 11 enables the chief inspector in England to publish any inspection report in such manner as they think appropriate. Clause 29 enables the chief inspector in Wales to do the same. Publication of inspection reports is an important aspect of the role of the chief inspectors in raising public awareness of key educational issues. In practice, all section 5 and section 28 inspection reports will be published. That is the case for such reports now and it will continue to be the case under the arrangements set out in the Bill.

The amendments are therefore superfluous. The Bill already ensures that inspection reports will be publicly available and that parents will receive the reports of their children’s schools, irrespective of whether special measures are required. With that explanation, I hope that the hon. Lady will feel able to seek leave to withdraw her amendments.

Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Shadow Minister (Education)

I thank the Minister for that reassurance. It is not the news that parents with children at a school put into special measures are hoping for, but they need that information. If parents are aware of the areas of failure in a school, the school community can work together to overcome those   problems. Given his reassurance that that information will be available to parents, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 12 to 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clauses 20 to 27 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 28 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clauses 29 to 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.