The Education and Skills Bill received Royal Assent in November 2008. This Bill introduces a change to the compulsory school leaving age. Currently pupils are expected to attend school until they are 16. With the new legislation, this age will move upwards to 18 years and will become known as the compulsory education and training leaving age. Pupils will not be expected to go to school after 18 or if they achieve two A-levels before they are 18. The new Bill also introduces other important provisions including the new diplomas and abolishing key stage 3 Sats.
Also coming up in this academic year is a new Bill known as the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Bill. Once it has received Royal Assent it will give apprenticeships a statutory basis and, importantly for schools, will give further powers to schools to search for alcohol, drugs, weapons and any stolen items.
There has also been an amendment in the Equality Bill as the Government proposes to introduce the concept of indirect discrimination. In the recent case of Lewisham London Borough Council v Malcolm, the House of Lords made it significantly more difficult for a person who is disabled to show that heshe has been treated less favourably.
What to watch out for
In the Education and Skills Bill, two key dates to watch out for are the shift to raising the school leaving age to 17 by 2013 and 18 by 2015.
The Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Bill will require schools to inform parents of incidents that caused the school to use force on the pupil. Parental complaints will be streamlined and the responsibility the Secretary of State has to consider complaints will move to the Local Government Ombudsman.