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Clause 2

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners) 4:45 pm, 5th February 2008

I will seek to expand on our thinking—that is the phrase that we have been using—regarding “reasonable excuse”, about which the hon. Member for Yeovil is extremely concerned, very soon for his and the Committee’s benefit. We may need to rename clause 4 “the fourth clause” after the fourth option. Under that clause I will expand on some of the other options available to provide support to this group and others.  At the moment, we do not have any plans to do anything different post-16 to pre-16, but 18 weeks is just a maximum in respect of mothers returning to education or training; often, where there is the right provision, they will want to return sooner. We do not believe that it should be like maternity leave, because 16 hours a week of education or training is certainly less onerous than employment. It is vital that those young people have the right support. It would not be appropriate to pursue enforcement action against them in any normal circumstances.