Committee Stage Briefing, House of Lords, 28th June 2011
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Education Bill. We support the overarching aims and objectives of the Bill and its commitment to helping create an education system that delivers higher standards for all children.
- However, the Commission considers that certain provisions of the Bill could be strengthened to ensure they adequately address the educational experiences and outcomes for different equality groups.
- As the statutory body with responsibility for promoting, enforcing and monitoring the effectiveness of equality and human rights enactments, we aim to ensure that the Education Bill meets its desired objectives to raise the achievement and wellbeing of children by ensuring its provisions are compliant with the Equality Act 2010 and Human Rights Act 1998.
- Bullying: The Commission believes that there could be scope in the Bill to do more to address prejudice-based bullying. We believe that simple adaptations to existing monitoring arrangements could be made to collect data on incidents to drive action and monitor progress. We believe this is consistent with the government’s transparency initiative and could be done without adding additional bureaucratic burdens.
- Exclusions: The Commission is concerned by changes to the framework for permanent exclusions, which may increase the already disproportionately high exclusion levels for disabled pupils and certain ethnic minority groups.
- Detentions: The Commission suggests that further consideration is required to establish practical safeguards which underpin decisions on same-day detention.
- Searches/seizure of items: The Commission would like to see safeguards on search powers strengthened with additional procedural protections and guidance on search parameters to address practical and safeguarding concerns.
- Careers: The Commission broadly welcomes the introduction of a statutory duty for schools to secure independent, impartial careers guidance for pupils. We suggest that this should include a requirement to challenge stereotypes, and raise aspirations for different groups of pupils. We are concerned that starting careers guidance at 14 is too late to adequately address equality issues associated with subject and career choices.
- School Inspections: The Commission is seeking further clarity on how the reforms set out in the Bill will ensure that due regard for equality and human rights is fully incorporated into the new inspection framework. In particular, the removal of the ‘limiting judgement’ on equality raises concerns of regression.
Download the full briefing - Education Bill (Word)