Changes to the statutory framework for independent schools and academies

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The Department for Education (DfE) has been in the process of replacing the statutory framework within which independent schools and academies operate since February 2014.

Why change?

The existing framework is set by the Education Act 2002. However, a number of concerns caused the DfE to decide to replace this framework with the framework set by the Education and Skills Act 2008. Most of the provisions in the 2008 Act relating to independent schools will come into force shortly, including higher standards on leadership and management; spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and safeguarding pupils.

In addition, there have been changes to the Independent School Standards, with the first set of amendments to the Standards coming into force on 29 September 2014.

Powers to bar unsuitable people

The Independent Educational Provision in England (Prohibition on Participation in Management) Regulations 2014 also came into force on 1 September 2014. These regulations help to implement stronger powers to bar unsuitable people from managing independent schools and academies.

The Regulations allow for the Secretary of State to give directions if they consider that a person is unsuitable to take part in the management of an independent school, for example if they have been convicted of or received a caution for a relevant offence or has engaged in relevant conduct.

There are protections for the individual concerned to ensure they have their say before a direction is made, for directions to be revoked if circumstances have changed, and for a right of appeal against a direction to the First-tier Tribunal.

For more information, help or advice on education issues please contact Tony McPhillips on 0191 211 7908.