Fears are mounting that the Schools Bill will be “scrapped” by new prime minister Liz Truss in favour of policies that are seen as more urgent and popular, Tes had learned. Sources close to discussions within the new government have told Tes that they predict the bill will be “diluted” to push it through or potentially “scrapped” altogether during this Parliament.
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The comments come after it emerged that the third reading of the bill in the House of Lords was removed from the parliamentary schedule last week and now awaits a new date. The task is now likely to be further delayed due to the government’s reshuffle following the resignation of Theresa May.
The Schools Bill, first introduced in 2016, would introduce a new set of admissions rules and allow new types of schools to open more easily. It had been due to receive its third reading in the House of Lords on 5 June – the day after Mrs May resigned as prime minister – but this was postponed.
A source close to the Department for Education said they were “unsure” if the bill would be a priority for Ms Truss.
“I think it will either be diluted down so that it just becomes an admissions bill or scrapped altogether,” the source said. “There are other things that are seen as more urgent.”
Another source said that while it was “too early to say” what would happen to the bill, they expected it to be pushed through in a “watered-down form”.
The government has already dropped plans to force all schools in England to become academies, a key plank of the bill.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The government is committed to delivering the Schools Bill and will work with parliament to take this forward in due course.”
But Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said the bill should be scrapped altogether.
“Theresa May’s school’s bill was an ideological attack on our education system that would have created a two-tier system and led to more selection,” Ms Rayner said.
“It is time for the government to abandon their divisive plans and work with us cross-party to build a broad consensus on the education reforms our country needs.”
The bill’s third reading was originally scheduled for 7 March but was postponed due to the EU withdrawal deadline of 29 March. It was rescheduled for 5 June, the day after Mrs May resigned.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “The government is committed to delivering the Schools Bill and will work with parliament to take this forward in due course.”
The bill has been widely criticised by education experts and teaching unions, who say it will exacerbate social segregation and lead to declining standards.
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