House of Lords debate on right to education

We are place-marking this important debate on the Education and Inspections Bill in the House of Lords on 17 October 2006. 

It covers a number of important issues regarding the right to education and how it might be realised. It also notes the emerging differences between Scots legislation and that applicable in England and Wales.

In particular, Lord Adonis’s contribution underlines his reasons for not being persuaded of the need to change the law in England and Wales because

…it might—for me, this is the decisive argument—have the perverse effect of requiring the state to make available types of education which we do not favour on grounds of equity, values or standards.

He had a few days earlier written to Lord Judd outlining his reasons, the full transcript of which can be read here

In the debate, Lord Adonis proceeded to cite the ‘fourfold foundation’ as set out by Lord Bingham, in the case of Ali v Lord Grey School, who said:

“This fourfold foundation has endured over a long period because it has, I think, certain inherent strengths.

First, it recognises that the party with the keenest personal interest in securing the best available education for a child ordinarily is, or ought to be, the parent of the child. Depending on age, maturity and family background, the child may or may not share that interest. But the parent has a statutory duty.

Secondly, the regime recognises that for any child attending school it is that school through which the education provided by the state is in practice delivered. The relationship between school and pupil is close and personal: hence the restrictions on its interruption or termination. It is a relationship resembling, but for the want of consideration, a contractual relationship.

But, thirdly, the regime recognises the need for a safety net or longstop to ensure that the education is not neglected of those who for any reason (whether ‘illness, exclusion from school or otherwise’) are not being educated at school in the ordinary way. It is plainly intended that every child of compulsory school age should receive appropriate education in one way if not another, and that responsibility rests in the last resort with the LEA”.


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