Press release

Education Bill receives Royal Assent

The Education Act 2011 will help teachers raise standards in education with new powers to root out poor behaviour and underperformance.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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The coalition government’s Education Bill has today been granted Royal Assent. This completes the legislative framework for the government’s key education reforms, and paves the way for important changes in schools in England.

Education Bill receives Royal Assent

The Education Act 2011 will help teachers raise standards in education. It includes new legal powers to help teachers root out poor behaviour, to tackle underperformance, and to improve the way in which schools are held to account.

Provisions in the Act include:

  • a power for schools to search pupils without consent for any dangerous or banned items
  • the removal of restrictions that prevent schools from issuing detentions to pupils without providing 24 hours’ written notice
  • new pre-charge reporting restrictions on allegations of criminal offences made by pupils against teachers at their school
  • a power to create an entitlement to free early years provision for disadvantaged two-year-olds
  • reforms to the procedure for the establishment of new schools, to give preference to Academies and Free Schools
  • a re-focusing of Ofsted routine school inspections on four key areas that matter most to parents
  • a power to exempt schools from routine Ofsted inspections
  • new powers to tackle underperforming schools, including extended
  • powers for the Secretary of State to close them
  • the abolition of five existing arms-length bodies, with some of their functions transferring to more efficient new executive agencies, which are directly accountable to the Secretary of State.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

This new legislation hands to teachers all the powers they need to ensure that every classroom is a safe and ordered place where children are free to learn. It focuses school inspection on educational standards and strengthens school accountability to drive continued improvement in academic standards.

We are determined to deliver for parents the type of schools they want for their children and this new Education Act is an important part of this programme.

The Department for Education has received Royal Assent for two significant Bills since the Coalition Government came to power. Both provide powers to transform the education system and raise standards in schools.

The first - the Academies Act 2010 - gave all schools the chance to enjoy Academy freedoms. This year, Academies reported GCSE improvement rates double that of the national average. More than 1,500 schools have also applied to become Academies - meaning that 40 per cent of secondary schools are, or are seeking to become, Academies.

The Act also enabled new Free Schools to be set up in communities where there is demand from local parents for a good, new school. The first 24 Free Schools opened this year, and many more are aiming to open in 2012 and beyond. Many of these schools are - or plan to be - based in areas of deprivation.

The Academies Act 2010 laid the legal foundations that are allowing important structural changes to take place in the education system, by giving teachers, heads and other local people the powers and autonomy they need to raise standards.

The Education Act 2011 will build on the significant structural changes made possible by the Academies Act - allowing the reforms made to the schools system to go even further.

Most provisions in the Act will take force within the next two months; those relating to abolition of most arms-length bodies will take effect around the end of the financial year; and the remainder of the Act commencing at the start of the next school year.

 Notes to editors

The Education Act has four main themes:

Good behaviour and discipline

We must support teachers by giving them powers to ensure good behaviour and discipline. The Act will:

  • Allow same-day after school detentions.
  • Provide a power to search pupils for any item likely to cause harm or injury.
  • Give teachers pre-charge anonymity when faced with an allegation by a pupil that they have committed an offence, to prevent false accusations being used to undermine teachers’ authority.

Sharper accountability

With increased freedom, should come sharper accountability. The Act:

  • Focuses Ofsted inspections on four key areas - pupil achievement; quality of teaching; leadership and management; and behaviour and safety.
  • Creates a power to end routine inspections of outstanding schools and colleges.
  • Ensures that Ofqual, the independent regulator, must ensure our exams system is as robust and strong as the best around the world. It also gives Ofqual greater enforcement powers.
  • Strengthens the Government’s powers to intervene in poorly performing schools.
  • Abolishes five quangos, with many of their activities ending.
  • Makes the Secretary of State directly accountable to Parliament for important functions, such as the barring of teachers.

Freeing up professionals

We need to free teachers and school and college leaders from bureaucracy so they have the autonomy to use their skills and judgement to meet the needs of all their children.

  • The Act will remove unnecessary duties on schools.
  • It extends the Academies and Free School programme further with Academies for 16 to 19 year olds and alternative provision Academies for the most vulnerable children.

Using resources fairly

The Act takes forward the “fairness premium” by:

  • Providing the power to create an entitlement to free early years provision for disadvantaged two year olds.
  • For new higher education students, the Act helps enable the new progressive student finance arrangements - the lowest earning 25 per cent of graduates will pay less over their lifetime than under the current system.

Most provisions in the Act will be commenced within the next two months, with those relating to abolition of arms-length bodies being commenced at the end of the financial year and the remainder at the start of the school year in September 2012. A statement setting out when provisions in the Act will be commenced will be placed on this website.

DfE enquiries

Website: www.education.gov.uk/help/contactus

Published 15 November 2011