HL Deb 10 February 2005 vol 669 c135WA
Baroness Walmsley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the view of local education authorities and their representative organisations to the consultation launched on 8 July 2004 which proposed that all proposals to establish new secondary schools should be open to competition. [HL1007]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Filkin)

Some authorities had concerns about how the arrangements for school competitions would fit in with other programmes such as the "Building Schools for the Future" initiative. There was, however, support among representative bodies and individual authorities for decisions to be made by the local school organisation committee or schools adjudicator rather than the Secretary of State. Following feedback, the department also amended proposals that in certain circumstances the Secretary of State should have a reserve power to decide competitions. It is now proposed that the schools adjudicator should make these decisions.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have outsourced the administration of competitions for additional secondary schools under Section 70 of the Education Act 2002. [HL1009]

Lord Filkin

Responsibility for the administration of competitions rests with local authorities. Section 70 of the Education Act 2002 requires local authorities to publish a notice inviting proposals for new schools where there is a need for an additional wholly new secondary school. The local authority has then to publish a summary of all proposals put forward, and any it wishes to make itself, giving all local people the opportunity to comment on the options.

The Secretary of State is responsible for the decision on which of the proposals should be approved and has not outsourced any element of this process. In June 2004, following an open competition, the department engaged Ark Associates and the Office for Public Management to provide community engagement and event management services to raise awareness of the local competition among potential promoters of new schools.