Accord tells Education Bill Committee to retain important safeguards in schools

March 2, 2011

Following its recent appeal for written evidence, the Accord Coalition has made a written submission to the House of Commons Bill Committee that is considering the Government’s current Education Bill.

Accord has highlighted its concern that the Bill proposes to take away some very important safeguards that would risk empowering those who would mitigate against social cohesion in our schools. These include proposals to:

•    remove Ofsted’s legal duty to inspect how school’s promote community cohesion
•    remove the responsibility of local authorities to establish a school admissions forum
•    take away the freedom of the school adjudicator to consider and propose changes to any part of a school’s admissions arrangements

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain said ‘there are a great many reforms that we would like the Bill to bring about, which it fails to do. However, as it stands, the Bill proposes to take away several existing and important safeguards that help to prevent schools from operating in even more introspective and discriminatory ways.

‘Ofsted’s inspection of community cohesion in schools is the principal method of ensuring that schools try to promote cohesion. To take away Ofsted’s duty on this measure would effectively render requirements for schools to promote cohesion almost meaningless.

‘The Bill also proposes that there should be far less scrutiny of school admission policies, even though successive reports of the Chief Schools’ Adjudicator have shown particular problems with admission policies at faith schools.

‘The Government is currently seeking to give schools greater freedom and allow new and untested education providers to start running state funded schools through its Academies and free schools programme. It follows therefore that it should ensure at the very least the same level of monitoring of schools, not less, otherwise new freedoms may be abused. In the Government’s eagerness to remove bureaucracy it is proposing to take away some very important safeguards and we urge the Committee to rectify this oversight.’

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