The Queen has just delivered her Speech at the State Opening of Parliament. This Speech sets out the Government’s agenda for the coming session of Parliament, including outlines of proposed policies and new legislation.
We look at what the Queen’s Speech means for schools, education and life chances.
1. Education for All Bill
- A continued commitment to a fully academised system, as we predicted last week, including seeking powers for academisation in poorly performing local authority areas or where the local authority is no longer viable and removing the school improvement role of local authorities.
- Reforms to ‘Alternative Provision’ for excluded pupils, making schools responsible for finding the right provider for their excluded pupils and making them responsible for their education.
- A new National Funding Formula will be introduced to ensure that schools with the same types of pupils get the same funding. Earlier this year, we looked at some of the challenges a new formula will bring and will provide further analysis once the DfE publishes its detailed proposals.
- Changes to technical education through strengthening the role of employers and creating clearer routes to skilled employment. We will be looking at this in a Report due to be published in November, including an analysis of the pathways and flexibility between technical and academic education.
2. Soft Drinks Industry Levy Bill
- As expected, the Levy has the explicit aim of supporting sport provision, extensions of the school day, and breakfast clubs.
- How much money this will raise will come down to consumer behaviour, making it a potentially unreliable funding source. It will therefore be important to see whether or not the money available to schools will be dependent on the amount the Levy raised. More information can be found in our Budget 2016 briefing.
3. National Citizen Service Bill
- This Bill creates a new duty on all secondary schools to promote the NCS to children and parents.
- There is currently a lack of evidence to judge how effective the NCS is. Early evaluation was limited to looking at perceptions and assumptions.
- It is however the case that the NCS includes a high proportion of kids from poorer backgrounds, with 23% of participants being in receipt of Free School Meals, compared with 14% of the general population.
4. Higher Education and Research Bill
- This will deliver on the proposals in this week’s White Paper, opening up the market to new provision, promoting flexibility in the awarding of degrees and design of courses, and cementing the role of the Teaching Excellence Framework.
- The Government is increasingly financially exposed to the future earnings of students following tuition fee reforms at a time when the OECD estimates 7% of graduates have low basic skills.
5. Prison and Courts Reform Bill
- This planned new requirement on prisons to produce statistics on prisoner education, reoffending and employment on release supports the conclusion in our report on Prison Education in March this year which called for a standard set of measures for all prisons focused on educational progress and employment outcomes.
- The creation of new ‘Reform Prisons’ where prison governors have autonomy to deliver their own education offer and appoint their own Boards follows the recommendations of the Coates Review released today, which gives us more detail about what these reform prisons would look like in practice.
- Better support for mental health in prisons will be welcome but it will be important for it to include the Youth Justice System given the prevalence of mental health need in those settings.
6. Life Chances Strategy
- Following the Prime Minister’s speech in January, the Government reconfirms its ambition of publishing a new Life Chances Strategy, which will include new indicators on the causes of poverty.
7. Children and Social Work Bill
- A new duty on local authorities and schools to publish services and standards for care leavers
- Improvements to the social work profession through new standards and a new specialist regulator.
8. The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill
- The Bill has the stated aim of strengthening neighbourhood planning and give even more power to local people, but also tackle the over-use of planning conditions.
- With local support for new building projects often a barrier to development, these measures might have a range of impacts on new school or school building improvement proposals.
9. The Local Growth and Jobs Bill
- This Bill will give councils more powers to adjust and retain the receipts of business rates.
- Following the Government’s call of last year for local authorities to offer discounts to the childcare sector, these further freedoms could open up more opportunities or competition for premises from other businesses.