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Education and Inspections Bill

Volume 447: debated on Monday 5 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the level of administration required to implement the provisions of the Education and Inspections Bill. (73781)

The Education and Inspections Bill is generally deregulatory in nature, providing a legislative framework to establish a new relationship between government, local authorities and schools. However, there are additional costs for some elements of the Bill. These are set out in the Bill's Regulatory Impact Assessment which is available on the Department's website at:

www.dfes.gov.uk/publications/educationandinspectionsbill.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations he has received from hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies on the Education and Inspections Bill. (73910)

We have received three representations on the Education and Inspections Bill from MPs representing Scottish constituencies. These have raised a number of issues, including:

The faith character of trust schools;

Whether the Bill has implications for the Barnett formula; and

A request for a response to the National Union of Teachers' leaflet about the Bill.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what system of inspections he will put in place to ensure the maintenance of nutritional standards in schools following introduction of the measures proposed in the Education and Inspections Bill; (73912)

(2) what estimate his Department has made of the likely costs of the nutritional school meals proposed in the Education and Inspections Bill; and what assessment he has made of the impact of the proposals for the costs of school meals to (a) schools, (b) local education authorities and (c) parents.

The responsibility for ensuring that the nutritional standards are being met will rest with either the local authority or the school governing body, depending on the model of provision. Ofsted are already inspecting schools’ general approach to healthy eating as part of the new inspection framework for schools. They have also already carried out, alongside nutritionists, a pilot thematic study in three local authorities, looking at the standard of food provided in a sample of schools. A further larger-scale thematic study is planned for next year.

We have published a full Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) which considers the financial impact that the new nutritional standards will have. In compiling the RIA, account was taken of the report written for the School Meals Review Panel (SMRP) by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the costs of implementing the Caroline Walker Trust's recommendations, which are closely mirrored by the recommendations of the SMRP.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate his Department has made of the likely costs of the free transport provisions of the Education and Inspections Bill. (73914)

The Education and Inspections Bill includes provisions that place a general duty on local authorities to promote sustainable school travel and extend the entitlement to free home to school transport for low income families. It will also enable a small number of local authorities to run Pathfinder schemes which will include innovative arrangements supporting school choice; and increase the proportion of pupils travelling by sustainable means.

In 2004/05 local authorities in England spent £772 million on free and assisted home to school transport. This will be supplemented by £4 million per annum to fund the new general duty to promote sustainable travel; £40 million per annum to extend the entitlement to free transport to low income families, and £12 million per annum to support Pathfinder schemes.