Any new Education Bills in the Queen’s Speech?
By Steve Besley
11 May 2012
No sign of the HE Bill in the legislative programme announced by the Queen this week but a few other Bills of potential interest for the world of education amongst the 19 Bills that were announced. They include a Bill enacting some important recent developments around special educational needs, adoption and parental leave, a Bill to help strengthen economic recovery and a couple of Bills on pensions. In all, a sober programme reflecting what the Prime Minister called the Government’s primary task of dealing with the deficit and returning growth to the economy
Three themes ran throughout the programme of Bills announced: extending opportunity in the economy; rewarding responsibility in society; and transferring power to the people but in reality this particular Queen’s Speech has attracted interest for two reasons. First because it’s been 18 months since the last one so this was an important moment for the Coalition to define itself for the mid-term and beyond. Second because, as has been widely reported, this was to be the moment when the Government fought back after a difficult few months.
Bills affecting the world of education and training
In all there are three:
- Children and Families Bill. This Bill brings together some important work that has been going on in the DfE and elsewhere to support children with special educational needs (SEN,) speed up adoption procedures and improve family law. The proposals on SEN, which will interest schools in particular, follow last year’s Green Paper and have been called ‘the biggest reform in support for SEN in 30 years.’ They will see the traditional model of pupil statements scrapped in favour of a system that will bring assessments, protections and provision together into a single plan while granting greater commissioning power to parents and young people up to the age of 25
- Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. This Bill follows the familiar narrative of trying to free up business and stimulate growth. How far it will do that particularly in encouraging employers to take on recruits remains to be seen. Measures such as the Green Investment Bank are already in process, the creation of a single Competition and Markets Authority may help but on removing barriers, employers may need to be convinced
- The two Pensions Bills enact changes that were spelt out in the Budget for state pensions and in the Final proposed Agreements to public service pensions. The former would see a simpler state system developed and a state pensionable age of 67 introduced between 2026 and 2028, the latter would see the average earnings model implemented with protections for those closest to retirement
The Prime Minister described it as a Speech for “the doers, the strivers and those who played by the rules” but was chided by the Opposition for doing little to help unemployment
© Steve Besley, Head of Policy, The Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning 2012.