Clause 54 - Inspection of independent schools

Education Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 22nd March 2005.

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

Photo of John Pugh John Pugh Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

It is an extraordinarily short clause, which states:

Schedule 8 contains amendments relating to the inspection of independent schools.”

I apologise to the Minister; I may not have read those words with the attention that they deserve. Independent schools always have a particular view of how they should function. It is often at variance with the standard state education. One thinks of the difficulties that Summerhill school had with the inspection regime. There is clearly a balance to be achieved between recognising that independent schools are indeed independent and are often chosen by parents because they want a particular genre of education not available in the state system, and ensuring that independent schools provide a good education. Without going into the detail of the amendments, will the Minister assure me that the flexibility and independence of independent schools is not in any way modified by any of the amendments in schedule 8?

Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Minister of State (Education and Skills) (School Standards) 11:15 am, 22nd March 2005

I am happy to give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks. The changes set out in the clause are essentially technical. In practice, since the possibility of registered inspectors being used in the independent sector came in, registered inspectors have not been used. That situation has not occurred. All the inspections that have been carried out have continued to be undertaken by Ofsted. The removal of the power for inspection by registered inspectors will, therefore, have no practical effect.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 54 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 8 agreed to.

Clauses 55 to 61 ordered to stand part of the Bill.