28/02/2006

Government publishes controversial education bill

The government has published its controversial Education Bill, although it includes several concessions, following a threatened rebellion by many Labour backbenchers.

The Education and Inspections Bill includes plans to allow English schools to establish independent trusts, allowing them to have control over their own admissions and budgets.

Under the proposals, schools would be able to form partnerships with outside organisations, such as parents' groups, faith organisations and businesses.

The Conservatives have backed the plans, however many Labour backbenchers are opposed to the Bill. They have voiced concerns that the proposals could lead to academic selection and a "two-tier" education system, which would work against children from less wealthy backgrounds.

A number of concessions have been included, such as a ban on admission interviews and strengthened admissions guidelines. However, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly will retain a veto option over local councils setting up schools - one of the measures that the rebels want removed from the Bill.

The Education Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons on March 15.

(KMcA/SP)

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