Clause 146

– in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 26th March 2009.

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Qualifications regulatory framework

Amendments made: 485, in clause 146, page 82, line 24, leave out ‘regulated qualifications’ and insert ‘qualifications in respect of which they are recognised’.

This technical drafting amendment is one of the changes described in the Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 431. The amendment clarifies that the qualifications to which Ofqual’s guidance refers are those that a recognised body awards or authenticates.

Amendment 300, in clause 146, page 82, line 38, leave out ‘from time to time’.—(Sarah McCarthy-Fry.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 290.

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

Photo of Joan Humble Joan Humble Labour, Blackpool North and Fleetwood

With this it will be convenient to take the following: Government new clause 24—Duty not to impose or maintain unnecessary burdens.

New clause 22—Achievement and attainment tables——

‘Ofqual shall set and publish the criteria and indicators, including those for the allocation of credit ratings, which shall be used for the allocation of qualifications contained within achievement and attainment tables published by the Secretary of State.’.

Photo of Sarah McCarthy-Fry Sarah McCarthy-Fry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families

New clause 24 will impose a duty on Ofqual not to impose or maintain unnecessary regulatory burdens. The clause is similar in effect to section 72 of the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008, which imposes almost identical duties on a range of regulators such as the Office of Rail Regulation and the Postal Services Commission.

That sits alongside the other provisions in the Bill that require Ofqual to perform its functions efficiently and effectively and to review its committee structures at least every five years. Ofqual will also need to observe the Government’s five key principles of good regulation: that any regulatory activity should be transparent, accountable, proportionate, consistent and targeted only at cases when action is needed.

Turning to the different subject matter of new clause 22, I am sympathetic to the thinking behind it. It will be entirely appropriate for Ofqual to have a role in looking at how qualifications are scored for the purposes of the Government’s achievement and attainment tables. That will help to develop confidence in the objectivity of the scoring judgments. It will be related to its duties under clauses 139 and 140 in relation to the assignment of guided learning hours to qualifications for the purposes of determining whether qualifications are sufficient to meet the duty to participate in education and training under the Education and Skills Act 2008. However, we should not put the provisions in legislation and there is no need to do so because achievement and attainment tables are not statutory, and it would be inappropriate to make them so. I am sure that the Committee will be aware that we are reviewing them in the light of our proposals to develop a school report card. Our consultation on that proposal finished recently and we are reviewing the responses. In the light of those responses, we will discuss with interim Ofqual what the role of Ofqual and, if appropriate, that of QCDA, should be in the  new arrangements that we are making for providing information about school performance. We do not need to put such provisions in the Bill because, as it stands, it will allow Ofqual to undertake the activity if requested to do so by the Secretary of State. On that basis, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw it.

Photo of David Laws David Laws Shadow Secretary of State (Children, Schools and Families) 3:30 pm, 26th March 2009

I was temporarily excited that the Minister was about to accept my new clause, but she then went on to give a long set of reasons why she would not. Nevertheless, it was a constructive set of reasons and, if I can extract a modest victory from her speech, there was clearly some sympathy towards the intention of new clause 22, so I do not need to press the matter further.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 146, as amended, accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 147 ordered to stand part of the Bill.