National Assembly Committee agrees general principles of Education (Wales) Bill

Published 22/11/2013   |   Last Updated 14/07/2014

National Assembly Committee agrees general principles of Education (Wales) Bill

A National Assembly Committee is supporting the general principles of the Education (Wales) Bill.

The Children and Young People Committee concluded that the Bill, introduced by the Welsh Government, will meet many of its stated objectives including improving the registration of the education workforce in Wales and standardising school term dates across Wales.

The Committee also recommended that the inclusion of support provisions for those with ‘Special Education Needs’ (SEN) should be taken forward separately. The Committee believes that it would be more appropriate to include SEN provisions in a separate Bill which will take a much wider view of SEN issues. The Welsh Government has indicated its intention to bring forward a further SEN Bill.

The Committee recommended changes to the Welsh Government’s plans for a registration body which will set and maintain professional standards. Under the current Bill teachers and support staff at independent schools would not need to register with the Education Workforce Council (formally the General Teaching Council Wales (GTCW)).

The Committee concluded that this leaves open the possibility that teachers who have been disciplined or even struck off by the registration body would potentially be free to teach in an independent school. This was deemed a safety loophole which the Welsh Government should close.

“The Committee supports the objectives of the Education Bill,” said Ann Jones AM, Chair of the Children and Young People Committee.
“The evidence we received supports the reform of the GTCW and the extension of registration to other staff involved in educating children and young people.

“We have recommended that the provisions included for those with special education needs would sit better in a piece of legislation which considers the issues as a whole rather than part of something else.
“We also think it is vital to include teachers at independent schools under the remit of the registration body”

The Committee makes 13 recommendations in its report including:

  • There would be advantages in including all SEN reforms within a single piece of legislation, providing this can be done in a timely manner, and recommends that the Minister consider whether this Bill is the appropriate vehicle for these provisions;

  • That the Bill is amended to ensure teachers and staff at independent schools are included in the requirements to register, and;

  • That the Minister should bring forward draft regulations concerning youth workers for the Committee’s consideration prior to the regulations being tabled.

The Committee’s findings will be debated in a meeting of the full Assembly before Members will vote to decide whether the Bill is allowed to proceed.

If it is, the next stage is more detailed consideration of the Bill and an opportunity for AMs to propose amendments.