Amendments 5 and 6 follow from an amendment that was tabled at stage 2 by Fiona McLeod, with which the Executive agreed in principle. The amendments introduce a requirement for authorities to take reasonable steps to notify parents that a vacancy has arisen and cover the circumstances in which a by-election should be held within a school board. That means that parents will be notified of their continuing right to request a by-election. However, unlike the earlier amendment, the amendments give authorities the flexibility to do that in a way that does not create extensive administrative burdens for the school or the authority. Authorities oversee the regular election process and are already required to notify parents that a regular election is being held. I recommend that members accept the amendments.
I move amendment 5.
I welcome the amendments that were lodged as a result of discussion at stage 2. I understand the thinking behind the provision to allow co-option where vacancies on school boards arise. However, there was a concern that that might lead to situations in which a majority of school board members were co-opted rather than elected. The provision to allow a certain number of parents to request an election to fill a vacancy was an improvement on the initial provisions. However, that right will have meaning only if parents know about vacancies. The amendments oblige local authorities to take reasonable steps to ensure that parents are aware of such vacancies.
In that spirit, I am happy to accept the amendments and commend the Executive for introducing them.
Amendment 5 agreed to.
Amendment 6 moved—[Peter Peacock]—and agreed to.