Main provisions of the Education Act 2002
The Education Act 2002 received Royal Assent in July. The Act implements the legislative commitments set out in the White paper Schools — achieving success. It is a substantial and important piece of legislation intended to raise standards, promote innovation in schools and reform education law. The following summary sets out the main provisions of the Act. Furthermore, the wallchart sets out when the provisions will come into force. (Download the LA or schools wallchart.) Hard copies of this wallchart can be obtained from PROLOG, the DCSF publications centre, on 0845 602 2260, quoting reference DfES/0676/2002 for the schools wallchart and LEA/0294/2002 for the LA wallchart.
Power to innovate (sections 1-5)
Any school or LA which is prevented by any education legislation from implementing an innovative idea for raising standards will be able to apply to the Secretary of State, following consultation with relevant bodies, to vary legislation for a pilot period. Pilots may last for up to three years, with the possibility of extension for up to a further three years.
Earned autonomy (sections 6 -10)
Where schools have demonstrated that they are well managed and are achieving high standards, the Act enables them to qualify for greater flexibility in certain areas of the National Curriculum and teachers' pay and conditions. Regulations will set out the qualifying criteria for this 'earned autonomy'.
School companies (sections 11-13)
The Act allows a group of schools to join together to form a company. This will allow groups of schools to procure goods and services collectively and therefore benefit from economies of scale. Companies may also be established to provide services to other schools.
Grant-making power (sections 14-18)
The Secretary of State's grant-making powers are simplified and consolidated. Currently the Secretary of State's power to pay grants to support education and childcare is governed by a wide range of different powers, each with its own restrictions and administrative requirements. By replacing those with a single broad power the DCFS will be able to eradicate much of the unwanted bureaucracy surrounding providing schools and LAs with their funding.
Governance (sections 19-40)
The DCSF is creating a more flexible governance framework that allows for much greater discretion at local level and frees governors from activities that are incidental to their primarily strategic role. Many of the detailed provisions concerning governing bodies have been repealed. Procedures are deregulated and there will be increased delegation of staffing decisions and governors' involvement in dismissals will be limited to hearing any appeal.
The Act enables governing body membership to be tailored to reflect the circumstances of the school. The four main stakeholder groups will be guaranteed membership of the governing body, but each school will be free to choose the details of its constitution. Schools that wish to draw additional expertise onto the governing body will be able to do so, and volunteers offering such help will be recognised as associate governors.
The Act also allows schools to be federated. Under full federation (sections 24-25), several schools could come together under a single governing body. A range of models will be possible under the Act, including the establishment of an overarching strategic body with each school retaining a governing body, or of a joint committee in an area of mutual interest (section 26).
The Act gives governing bodies the power to run community services (sections 27-28). Schools will be able to provide integrated services such as health services, childcare or adult education, working in partnership with other providers as a resource for the whole community.
School funding (sections 41-45)
The Act separates out the 'schools budget' (covering all expenditure for which funding is generally delegated to schools at present, along with most other expenditure relating to direct provision for pupils) from the 'LA budget' (covering functions which can only sensibly be carried out by the LA). This will provide greater transparency by making clearer how funding is divided up (section 41).
The Act introduces a reserve power for the Secretary of State to set a minimum schools budget. LAs will be required to notify the Secretary of State and all the schools maintained by them of the proposed amount of their schools budget for the following financial year by the end of January each year (section 42).
In order to promote good dialogue between schools and LAs, the Act will require each LA to have an advisory Schools Forum, broadly representative of schools in that LA's area. Head teachers and governing bodies will elect school members to a forum which will then pass on views to the LA (section 43).
The Act allows requirements to be imposed as to the way maintained schools keep accounts and report information (sections 44 and 45).
School admission, exclusion, and attendance (sections 46-53)
The Act builds on the framework established by the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 introducing a new requirement for co-ordinated admission arrangements, abolishing standard numbers, making admission forums statutory, and repealing the ability of foundation and VA schools to make special arrangements for preserving religious character. It also moves the requirements on admission appeals into regulations.
The Act makes adjustments to the existing law on exclusions. The changes will allow Government to respond much more quickly than before to any need to change the law to reflect changing circumstances, and introduces a retrospective right of appeal for parents of pupils permanently excluded from a Pupil Referral Unit (section 52).
The Act enables an overall absence target to be set, covering authorised and unauthorised absences, supporting school improvement and raising community awareness of the issue (section 53).
Powers of intervention (sections 54-64)
The Act introduces further measures that will help to ensure that weak and failing schools are turned around as quickly as possible. Where a governing body is part of the problem at a weak or failing school, the DCSF has taken powers to ensure that it can be replaced by an Interim Executive Board. When the school has been turned around, the Interim Executive Board will be disbanded and a new governing body formed. The Act also extends powers to allow the Secretary of State to intervene in schools with serious weaknesses and provides for earlier intervention by LAs or by the Secretary of State. Under the Act, the Secretary of State will also have a reserve power to require the involvement of an external partner in the turn-around of a school, if that should prove necessary in particularly difficult cases (sections 54-59 and 63-64).
The Act also clarifies the powers of the Secretary of State to intervene in weak LAs and extends the Secretary of State's power to direct to any education function. There is also provision for the Secretary of State or her nominee to perform an authority's function and to clarify that co-operation may be required when an intention to direct has been announced as well as after a direction has been made (sections 60— 62).
Academies (sections 65-69)
The Act allows for the creation of all-age Academies and for schools on the City Academy model in disadvantaged rural areas.
School organisation (sections 7071 and 73)
The Act requires that where a new secondary school is required, the LA will advertise, so that any interested party can put forward proposals for a new school. Any promoter, including a community or faith group, an LA or another public, private or voluntary body can publish proposals. All proposals will be judged on the basis of their educational merits, value for money and the outcome of consultation. In addition, community school governing bodies may publish proposals for prescribed alterations to their schools, to make it easier for them to expand, if that is in the interests of the community as a whole.
School curriculum (sections 76-96)
Parts 6 and 7 of the Act largely re-enact current curriculum law but divide it into a curriculum for England and Wales, adding the foundation stage as a statutory part of the National Curriculum and creating a legislative distinction between Key Stages 1 to 3 and Key Stage 4 (sections 84-86). This will make it possible to make changes to the Key Stage 4 curriculum in future to provide opportunities to tailor education to the needs of individual pupils.
Foundation Stage (sections 81, 83 and 204)
The Act introduces the Foundation Stage of the National Curriculum (sections 81 and 83) and repeals the current provisions relating to baseline assessment. The Act allows for the introduction of the Foundation Stage profile — a single national scheme based on observations accumulated over a period of time which provides for a much improved way of monitoring a young child's progress (section 204).
School workforce (sections 34-35 and 119-148)
The Act enables schools to make use of a wider range of expertise from beyond the school's normal boundaries, so that schools can share staff with one another and can make use of expertise from other sectors, such as FE. This more flexible model of staffing will help schools to develop partnerships with one another and support the sharing of expertise.
In addition, the Act makes clear the flexibilities schools have to make greater use of support staff in the classroom. It introduces a new framework which ensures that there will be a clearer statement than before of the roles of those with Qualified Teacher Status and those without. This will safeguard the importance of QTS more clearly, while at the same time ensuring that other staff can give teachers effective support in the classroom and that schools have appropriate flexibility to deploy their staff in the way that will raise standards in the most cost-effective way possible.
Early years (sections 149-156)
Part 9 of the Act makes a number of miscellaneous amendments to childcare and nursery education legislation, in particular on the role of LEAs in childcare and nursery education, and makes amendments to the inspection and registration regimes for childminding and day care and nursery education.
Independent schools (sections 157-174)
Part 10 of the Act introduces a new regulatory regime for independent schools and also amends some of the legislation about children with SEN placed in such schools.
Protecting and involving young people (sections 175-176)
The Act introduces a new statutory duty on maintained schools, LAs and FE institutions to ensure that their responsibilities under the Education Acts are carried out with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, with regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State (section 175).
The Act places a duty on LAs and the governing bodies of maintained schools to have regard to any guidance from the Secretary of State on consultation with pupils. The guidance will be based on the best practice already taking place in schools whilst enabling a school to retain flexibility in deciding how best to involve its pupils (section 176).
Learning and Skills Council (sections 72, 178 and 209)
The Act strengthens the strategic role of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The LSC will be able to publish proposals for reorganisation of school sixth-forms to complement its existing powers in relation to FE colleges and training providers (section 72). The new power does not, however, affect LAs' and schools' existing rights to bring forward sixth-form reorganisation proposals of their own. In addition, the LSC will be able to support workplace learning for 14 to 16-year-olds, and the existing 16 to 19 area inspection regime will be extended to cover 14 to 19-year-olds, so promoting coherence (section 178). Local LSC chairmen may now be paid (section 209).
Education Maintenance Allowances (sections 181-185)
The Act makes provision for a national scheme of Education Maintenance Allowances, whereby young people who are over compulsory school age and undertaking education or training other than higher education will be eligible for a means-tested allowance. The scheme will be extended from September 2004.
Student loans (section 186)
The Act gives the Secretary of State the power to repay over time the student loans of shortage-subject teachers taking up posts in England and Wales from 1 July 2002.
Education Action Zones (section 187 and Schedule 15)
The provisions of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 are amended to add to the list of eligible schools and allow a forum to add or remove schools subject to consent, and to give a forum additional broader educational objects.
Accountability (sections 179, 180, 188, 189 and Schedules 16,
The Act makes a number of small adjustments to the way that inspections will operate. The duties of inspectors are broadened so that they can report on the leadership as well as the management of schools. And in future, schools will only be required to send copies of their post-inspection plans to the Chief Inspector where special measures are required or the school has serious weaknesses (section 188 and Schedule 16). Inspectors are enabled to inspect education otherwise than at school and extending their powers of entry (sections 179 and 180).
QCA will be able to direct an awarding body if it is putting at risk the interests of learners who are seeking a qualification (section 189 and Schedule 17).
Residential trips and school meals and milk (sections 200 and
These sections allow the Secretary of State or National Assembly of Wales to prescribe additional benefits or tax credits, the receipt of which will enable charges to be remitted, in order to create future flexibility to be consistent with the tax credit and benefit system. It extends free lunch entitlement and allows the Secretary of State to set conditions prior to a duty being imposed to provide school lunches.
Nuisance on educational premises (section 206 and Schedule 20)
The Act amends section 547 of the Education Act 1996 to extend its provision to non-maintained special schools, independent schools and LEA-maintained facilities such as outdoor education centres. It also replaces section 40 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.
Inter-authority recoupment is simplified by sections 206 and 207.
Published: 17 September 2002