Concern on boundary right in Education Bill
by Peter Stanford SIR Keith Joseph's new education bill which aims to give parents a greater say in the running of schools, has caused some concern in Catholic circles.
Reflecting on the detailed changes set out in the new bill, Richard Cunningham, the Secretary of the Catholic Education Council, told the Cathoic Herald that "one proposal is repeated in the bill which caused a very great deal of concern when it first appeared abortively in a bill seven years ago.
This is the repeal of the provisions of the London Government Act on movement of pupils across local government boundaries. Since then the 1980 Education Act has included provisions on this point, but they cannot be regarded as a full substitute for those in the London Government Act".
The issue in question is the right of parents to send their children' to schools across the local government boundaries, and the duty of their home local authority to foot the bill for that education. Educationalists fear that the rights set out in the London Government Act are more thorough than those in the 1980 Act, particularly since the latter only covers education from the age of five upwards and most children start school before their fifth birthday.
Another area which was "under close examination", Mr Cunningham said, was the changes in responsibility suggested by the new bill. All voluntary aided schools (ie Catholic schools) would now be provided with their instruments and articles of government by the local education authority. These technical terms refer to such matters as the composition of governing bodies and the conduct of the school.
Previously the Department of Education had been responsible for the instruments and articles of government of voluntary aided secondary schools. Under the new proposals, the Secretary of State would be the final arbitor in cases of dispute on these matters.
Sir Keith's plans for changes in the composition of governing bodies would not affect Catholic schools, and the clause allowing church schools to change from controlled status to voluntary aided status — would not affect Catholic schools since they did not, with a single exception, fall into the controlled status category.