This is the latest in our series of quarterly education update blogs which will enable readers to catch up on the most important cases, issues or developments in education law from November to December 2016. Please feel free to submit a comment below or send us an Ask query if you have any views on the cases, issues, or legal developments that are covered or if you think we have missed something that should be brought to the attention of education law practitioners.
In this post, we look at:
- Legislative developments.
- Government consultations
- Government guidance and policy statements.
On 11 November 2016, the draft Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) Regulations 2016 (Childcare Regulations 2016) were laid before Parliament.
The Childcare Act 2016 (CA 2016) places the Secretary of State under a duty to secure the equivalent of 30 hours of childcare per week for “qualifying children of working parents” in each of 38 weeks per year (section 1).
The draft Childcare Regulations 2016 purport to make further provision about free childcare in England pursuant to the CA 2016. If brought into force they will place English local authorities under a duty from 1 September 2017 to secure that 570 hours of early years provision during no fewer than 38 weeks per year is available from an early years provider to whom section 40 of the Childcare Act 2006 applies.
The following consultations have been published:
- On 16 December 2016, the Department for Education (DfE) published a second stage consultation on proposals to introduce a national funding formula for schools, together with an analysis of responses to its first stage consultation and its intended next steps in light of those.
- On 11 November 2016, the Welsh Government published a consultation seeking views on proposals to revise and consolidate the school governance regulatory framework in Wales.
Government guidance and policy statements
On 16 December 2016, The House of Commons Library published a briefing paper providing an overview of the legislation and guidance currently in place regarding sex and relationship education (SRE) in schools in England. The paper outlines the statutory requirement for local authority maintained schools to teach SRE from age 11 upwards and have regard to the government’s SRE guidance. The paper also provides an extensive background to reviews and enquiries into the quality of SRE teaching across the education system, and proposals to introduce compulsory SRE, either as a standalone subject, or within a statutory requirement to teach personal, social health and economic education.
On 9 December 2016, the DfE published new guidance on multi-academy trusts (MATs) in England. The guidance is aimed at new MATs, maintained schools considering converting to an academy, and existing MATs who wish to grow. The guidance discusses the various factors regional schools commissioners will consider when they assess and approve the creation of new MATs and plans for growth of existing MATs, including supporting school improvement, effective leadership, and financial sustainability.