The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the second reading of the Schools Bill [HL] on 23 May 2022. The bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May 2022 and introduced in the House of Lords on 11 May 2022.

The explanatory notes to the bill highlight the government’s “long-term vision to improve the school system”, including ambitions to improve attainment in both literacy and numeracy. The government has described the bill as underpinning its education ambitions for England, the majority of which were outlined in the government white paper on schools ‘Opportunity for all: Strong schools with great teachers for your child’, published in March 2022.

The bill includes a range of measures on issues such as:

  • school funding
  • regulating independent educational institutions
  • teacher misconduct
  • school attendance
  • a register and support for children not in school
  • the structure and regulation of academy trusts

The Labour Party has described the bill as “narrow in scope, hollow in ambition and thin on policy”. The Liberal Democrats have been critical of its focus on school structures.

Plans to introduce a register of children not in schools were welcomed by the National Education Union (NEU) and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT). The Local Government Association welcomed plans to increase the schools inspector Ofsted’s powers to inspect schools operating illegally, without registration.

However, overall the NEU was critical of what it described as the “piecemeal and patchwork approach” of the bill. The NAHT noted that the government’s ambition to reform school structures outlined in the schools white paper was “likely to be controversial”.

The majority of the provisions in the bill apply to England only.

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