Clause 3 - Other warning notices

Education and Adoption Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 7th July 2015.

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

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The clause would amend the process for issuing a teachers’ pay and conditions warning notice—a type of warning notice that only local authorities have the power to give. Such a notice is given to a school by a local authority when a school fails to comply with a schoolteachers’ pay and conditions document. Failure to comply with the notice means that the school becomes eligible for intervention. That does not necessarily mean that the school will become an academy, but it would allow the local authority or the Secretary of State to appoint additional governors or an interim executive board. It would also allow the local authority to suspend the school’s right to a delegated budget if the school did not comply with the written warning notice.

The clause would amend the timescale for compliance with the notice from the current statutory 15 days to a period specified by the local authority. That will give the local authority scope to choose an appropriate period, to recognise the action that the school is required to take and to allow the school time to demonstrate that it has taken the necessary action.

Finally, under the clause, the local authority would be required to give a copy of the notice to the Secretary of State when they give the notice to the school’s governing body, which will allow the regional schools commissioner to monitor more effectively local authorities’ use of such warning notices. The school’s governing body would no longer be able to make representations to the local authority. That will speed up the process and ensure consistency with a performance warning notice. We propose to remove the equivalent process for making representations to Ofsted.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Education)

As the Minister said, the clause affects warning notices that relate to teachers’ pay and conditions, amending section 60A of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. It raises some of the same issues that we debated at length on clause 2, and I do not propose that we do the same now.

In particular, the clause removes a school’s right to make representations in response to a warning notice. However, the process as a whole is more straightforward than the one in clause 2. Removing the Secretary of State’s power to issue an order clarifies responsibilities. It might be worth asking why, if it is appropriate here, it is not appropriate elsewhere.

The Opposition agree that it is important to maintain a national framework of pay and conditions or we could get into a process of a wasteful and continuous bidding war—even more than there is currently—between schools that are trying to attract staff from one another. A national framework also does something to ensure that all staff are treated fairly, reduces the ability to play favourites with staff, and has some bearing on something that is becoming more of a concern, which is the ability of heads and senior staff to pay themselves inflated salaries at the expense of other staff. That, potentially, is a growing feature, particularly in areas of the system where there is no requirement to adhere to the pay and conditions document. The Minister has taken the  opportunity to explain the Government’s thinking and, having had an extensive debate on clause 2 and the amendments, I do not propose to detain the Committee any further on clause 3.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.